City Living helps Curb Obesity Levels Claims Oxford University Study

Recently, the Guardian reported on a study by Oxford University and The University of Hong Kong (UHK) in which it claimed “Residents of higher-density areas are more active, more socially engaged and less obese than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia.”

Obesity remains a major health concern across society with numerous government initiatives aimed at tackling the problem. The Oxford University and UHK study claims that denser city living means walkable access to amenities which aids public health. Residents are less dependent on the use of personal vehicles and use public transport more, thus benefiting a healthier lifestyle.

The study’s co-author Chinmoy Sarkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation “If we can convince policy makers that this is a public health opportunity, we can build well-designed communities, and in the long term you have made a big difference in health outcomes.

With evidence, we can plan multi-functional, attractive neighbourhoods that promote physical activity, promote social interaction, and shield from negatives such as pollution and feeling unsafe.”

According to The Guardian, the study compared more than 400,000 residents of cities, including London, Glasgow, and Cardiff and showed areas of suburban living with about 18 homes per hectare including neighbourhoods near motorways, where driving is the only option, had the greatest rates of obesity and lowest rates of exercise compared to people living in built-up residential areas. Communities with big gardens and open spaces were healthier than this, but still lagged behind the most densely populated areas in inner cities.

As pointed out in the Guardian article “London remains one of Europe’s most sparsely populated major cities, with less than half the density of Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, and below the level of Milan, Berlin and Rome.” If the findings of the UHK study are considered when implementing new policy, major cities could see an increase in population density and higher tower blocks catering to built up residential living and aiding a healthier lifestyle.

Click here to read the full Guardian article: