The place where you live could have a bearing on having a healthy weight, a new study has found.People tend to have healthier weights if they live in places where walking and cycling is a trend.
The research, however, does not prove that living in couch-potato land directly boosts a resident's risk of being fat.
The study findings have suggested, "It's really important to promote walking and cycling as safe, convenient and feasible modes of getting around on an everyday basis," said lead author John Pucher of Rutgers University.
Pucher and colleagues analysed statistics about walking and cycling for all purposes from 14 countries, including Sweden, Spain and Great Britain.
They also looked at statistics about walking and cycling to work (it had to be the main way people got there) in all 50 states and 47 of the 50 largest U.S. cities.
Switzerland, the Netherlands and Spain had the highest levels of walking and cycling among the countries, with the United States in the bottom three with Australia and Canada.
There is a connection between more walking and cycling and lower levels of obesity and diabetes, the researchers found.
Not surprisingly, they also linked more walking and cycling to higher overall levels of physical activity.
In the big picture, the study results suggest that a big part of the gaps between American states and cities concerning health can be explained by differences in levels of walking and cycling, Pucher said.
"Physical activity is crucial," said Lawrence Frank of the University of British Columbia.
"If we keep designing communities in ways that make driving the more rational choice, we can expect health care costs to go up and quality of life to go down."
Their findings appeared American Journal of Public Health.