A new study has given more weight to the notion that the area in which you life can seriously impact your overall health.
As part of a large experiment that began over a decade ago, a number of low-income women living in public accommodation in the cities of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York were given the opportunity to live in wealthier neighborhoods so doctors could study if the move improved their health.
Now, more than ten years after the experiment was launched, researchers have said that where you live may not only affect your general health, but also your level of obesity.
According to their results, researchers said that the relocated women showed lower rates of obesity when compared to women of similar backgrounds who hadn’t had the chance to live in more affluent areas. For example, 20% women living in public housing suffer from diabetes, while this number is just 16% in the relocated women. Around 14% of those women who moved to wealthier neighborhoods were said to be ‘extremely obese’, while the figure was closer to 18% for those in public housing.
Shaun Donovan, who is the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which arranged the study, was quoted as saying to the Associated Press that the results were conclusive proof that concentrated poverty was bad for health.
Cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, of the Yale School of Medicine, supported Donovan’s claims after seeing the results of the study, which were first published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“This is one of the first studies to show that where you live — the circumstances of your neighborhood, the social characteristics of the people around you — all these things may play a role in your own health. Your health is not just what happens to you, but is influenced by all of those around you and the environment. Some environments are toxic to health.”