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Neighborhood linked to obesity

Children lacking nearby parks, supermarkets at higher risk

2:17pm, April 19, 2012

Neighborhood amenities such as green space and a nearby grocery store may offer residents more than just curb appeal. Children who live in such neighborhoods are roughly half as likely to be obese as kids living in areas lacking these features, researchers report in two studies in the May American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The research combines two health aspects of residential life that studies usually examine separately — neighborhood amenities that boost physical activity and ready access to a grocery store in place of fast food outlets.

The new studies “are important contributions to the needed evidence documenting the influence of environmental factors on people's health, in particular obesity,” says Laura Kettel Khan, a nutritionist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

To assess those effects, Lawrence Frank, an urban planner and public health researcher at the University of British Columbia in

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