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What Your Zip Code Says About Your Weight

Por MyDiet™ -
What Your Zip Code Says About Your Weight

A study from the University of Washington, published in the magazine Social Science and Medicinereveals that zip codes and property values can predict the obesity rates of a neighborhood.

The study concluded that housing prices can impact obesity rates more than the education and the income level of people living in a given zip code. For each additional $100,000 dollars in the price of homes, researchers found obesity rates dropped 2%.

Obesity rates reached 30% in the most impoverished zip codes, but were only 5% in the most affluent ones.

The study was based on the analysis of responses to a telephone survey conducted in King County in the state of Washington. The local health department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) took part in the research.

From the survey, researchers also concluded that homeowners in zip codes with higher market value were more inclined to be "on a diet."

"Obesity is an economic issue," explained Dr. Adam Drewnowski, director of the UW Center for Obesity Research and leader of the study.  "Knowing more about the geography of obesity will allow us to identify the most vulnerable neighborhoods," he added.

Working with the King County health agency, researchers were able to analyze information from more than 8,000 respondents. The CDC used this information to create an obesity map, the first of its kind. "To some extent the results obtained were what we expected," remarked Drewnowski. "Area prosperity is a good reference of access to healthier foods and increased opportunities for exercise."

The University of Washington is the first to use these variables to examine obesity rates across a metropolitan area. Previous studies have indicated the social stigma of obesity, noting higher rates in the poorest or displaced communities, but they have never incorporated the geographic factor.

The King County analysis also revealed higher obesity rates for people with incomes less than $15,000 and lower rates for people who earned more than $50,000. These disparities also occur when analyzing zip codes.

"Our research shows that the obesity epidemic does discriminate," affirms Drewnowski. "Geography, social class and economic standing all play huge roles in the obesity problem. Some of the most disadvantaged areas are the ones most affected by this epidemic."


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