City, street pattern design may influence health, study says

[ Posted on August 14th, 2014 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]
Evolution of community design and street networks in the U.S., from gridiron (left) to tree-like pattern (right).

Evolution of community design and street networks in the U.S., from grid pattern (left) to tree-like (right).


People who live in older, compact cities with shorter blocks and more intersections – which promote more walking and biking — have lower rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases, according to a study by the universities of Colorado and Connecticut published in the Journal of Health and Transport.

The study, which used California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data, analyzed street network density, connectivity and configuration and how they affected rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma in 24 medium-sized California cities, such as Apple Valley, Berkeley, Davis, San Luis Obispo, Temecula and Victorville.

Other findings:

  • Wider streets with more lanes correlated with increased obesity and diabetes rates, possibly because wide streets indicated an inferior pedestrian environment.
  • “Big box” stores indicated poor walkability in a neighborhood and were linked to a 13.7 percent increase in obesity rates and a 24.9 percent increase in diabetes rates.
  • More fast food restaurants were associated with higher diabetes rates and more convenience stores with higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

Read the study.


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