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Location largely affects weight

by Medindia Content Team on February 16, 2006 at 8:13 PM
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Location largely affects weight

Contrary to popular belief that input less than output is the key to weight loss a new study says that location of work and home is what determines weight.

This study comes from the Canadian Institute for Health Information which shows that where we live, learn and work can help make or break our battle against the weight gain.

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According to Elizabeth Gyorfi-Dyke, director of CIHI's Canadian Population Health Initiative, "We see that the majority of Canadians see obesity as a personal responsibility, but the message really is that while it's about our individual choices, it's also about the social and environmental factors that can make it easier or harder for us to make the right choice."

Restricted to Canada the results say that Canadians living in areas where residents are more likely to bike or take public transit to work are less likely to report being overweight or obese than those in neighbourhoods where driving is the norm.
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As per the statistics approximately 12 per cent of urban trips in Canada are made on foot or by bicycle, slightly higher than the U.S. rate of seven per cent, but far below that in the Netherlands (46 per cent) and Denmark (41 per cent). Furthermore, the report shows only 18 per cent of Canadian adults are physically active, while 58 per cent are inactive and the rest moderately active.

In the words of Dr. John Millar, executive director of Population Health for British Columbia, "The evidence is mounting almost daily that where you have sprawl, you have more obese people. And where you design a community that doesn't have sidewalks, that doesn't have sports facilities and parks, that doesn't have bike paths and hiking areas . . . the more obesity you have."

Another aspect is the economical one. "In large cities in Canada, in the low-income neighbourhoods, there'll be no fresh fruit outlets, or a minimum, and many fast-food outlets," Millar observed. Schools and workplaces may also help or hinder the ability of Canadians to maintain a healthy weight, experts say.

Canada's adult obesity rate is 23 per cent and the overweight rate is 36 per cent; figures for children two to 17 show 18 per cent are overweight and eight per cent obese.

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