Saturday, April 01, 2006

Density as an Antidote to Obesity?

According to the Vancouver Sun, SmartGrowth BC has released a study by UBC's Larry Frank that suggests:
Each quartile increase in residential density corresponds with a 23-per-cent increase in the odds of walking for non-work travel, according to a recent Seattle study quoted in the report.

We have covered this connection before, but it is always important to point out new data.

SmartGrowthBC doesn't appear to have the report on their website so I don't know if Clark deals with this, but it is important to point out that density must be accompanied by mixed land use in order to engender a less sedentary lifestyle. As some defenders of dominant patterns of suburbanization point out, suburban density has increased over the past decade. I would not expect this to correlate, however, with active living behaviors since little has been done in reducing mixed-use zoning codes.

Perhaps some of the new research coming out of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Active Living by Design program will shed more light on the relationship between health and the urban form.