The results of an Australian study has found that the residential locality of an individual can play a major role in determining the weight of an individual. In a survey conducted among residents of Melbourne, people living in relatively underdeveloped areas were found to weigh 3 kg or more than those residing in more affluent neighbourhoods.
Surprisingly, the influence of the residential locality was found to be independent of the several other factors such as individual income, educational or occupational status. Significant neighbourhood weight differences were documented in the above survey.
"The average man or woman is about 3kg heavier if they live in a disadvantaged area and it doesn't matter whether that person is of low income or high income, or professional or blue collar. If you live in a disadvantaged area you are more likely to be overweight or obese, irrespective of your own socioeconomic characteristics,'' said Anne Kavanagh, epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne.
Previous studies have already established that individuals, more specifically women have an increased risk of being obese if they have a smaller income and a low level of education. The present study is the first ever conducted in Australia to explore the influence of locality on weight, irrespective of education or income.
A part of the results of the ongoing study (Victorian Neighbourhood Lifestyle Environment (VicLANES) Study have been published in the International Journal of Obesity.
The high numbers of food outlets that dispense junk food in the poorly developed areas has been suggested as one of the possible factor by researchers. The reduced levels of physical activity due to compromised quality of the footpaths, parks, street lighting and the eating habits of people in such areas could be other probable reasons.
The research is belived to be conducted in other parts of Australia as well. The next phase of the study would be focussed towards the identification of factors for the observed difference in weight among neighbourhoods. The results of the study have several valuable consideartions to be taken up in town planning and designing strageies.