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CU Denver study links city design and health

Research at CU Denver indicated that older, more compact cities with lots of intersections were healthier than newer communities.


The researchers examined street network density, connectivity and configuration. Then they asked how these measures of street design impacted rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma. The study used data collected by the California Health Interview Survey for the years 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009, sampling between 42,000 and 51,000 adults.

The results showed that increased intersection density was significantly linked to reduction in obesity at the neighborhood level and of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease at the city level. The more intersections, the lower the disease rates.

The study also found a correlation between wider streets with more lanes and increased obesity and diabetes rates. The reason, the researchers said, was that wider streets may be indicative of an inferior pedestrian environment.  The presence of a 'big box' store also tends to be indicative of poor walkability in a neighborhood and was associated with a 13.7 percent rise in obesity rates and a 24.9 percent increase in diabetes rates.

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Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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