In a new study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine, researchers found a link between a neighborhood’s built environment and the likelihood that its residents will develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers.
They suggest that living in neighborhoods with higher availability of fast-food outlets across all regions of the United States is associated with a higher subsequent risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Findings also indicated that the availability of more supermarkets could be protective against developing T2D, particularly in suburban and rural neighborhoods.
The study used data from a cohort of more than 4 million veterans living in 98 percent of U.S. census tracts across the country. It counted fast-food restaurants and supermarkets relative to other food outlets.
Veterans were followed for about five and a half years. During that time, 13.2% of the people were newly diagnosed with T2D. Males developed T2D more frequently than females (13.6% versus 8.2%).
The team also found 14.3% of veterans living in high-density urban communities developed T2D, while the lowest incidence was among those living in suburban and small-town communities (12.6%).
Overall, the team concluded that the effect of the food environment on T2D incidence varied by how urban the community was, but did not vary further by region of the country.
The team says the more people learn about the relationship between the food environment and chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, the more policymakers can act by improving the mix of healthy food options sold in restaurants and food outlets.
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The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author of the study is Rania Kanchi.
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