Feeling safe in your neighbourhood may help you lose weight

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The Study

A study from the Netherlands suggests that feeling safe in your neighborhood could help you lose weight.

This research, presented at the European Congress on Obesity, found that people who feel safe in their local area are more likely to lose weight when they take part in lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.

Neighborhood safety here includes not being scared of crime or harassment, feeling safe to walk or cycle despite traffic, adequate street lighting, and not having groups of youths hanging around.

Surprisingly, access to grocery stores or sports facilities didn’t show a significant connection to weight loss.

Why Does This Matter?

Obesity is often linked to lower socio-economic status, which can be linked to where people live. Lifestyle interventions, like diet and exercise programs, can help tackle obesity.

However, little is known about how neighborhood characteristics affect the success of such interventions.

Boëlle Brouwer from the University Medical Center Rotterdam explored this by looking at the connection between neighborhood characteristics and changes in waist size and weight in people participating in a 1.5-year multidisciplinary combined lifestyle intervention.

This intervention included dietary advice, exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The Participants and Method

The study involved 122 people living with obesity who participated in the program between October 2011 and April 2022.

Before the program, participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their neighborhood.

This included questions about neighborhood safety, attractiveness, social cohesion, and access to grocery stores and sports facilities.

What Did They Find?

The study found that those who felt safer in their neighborhood experienced greater decreases in both weight and waist circumference.

For instance, a one-point increase in neighborhood safety score led to a 1.3% greater initial weight loss.

By the end of the program, those with higher feelings of safety in their neighborhood had greater weight loss and waist circumference reduction.

A one-point increase in the safety score led to a 3.2% decrease in weight and a 2.6% decrease in waist circumference.

What Does This Mean?

According to Brouwer, these findings are independent of sex, age, and educational level.

Possible reasons why neighborhood safety is important could be less physical activity due to fear of going outside, or increased stress levels leading to unhealthy eating and weight gain.

Another interesting finding was a potential link between social cohesion and weight loss. A one-point increase in social cohesion score led to an average decrease of 1.3% in waist circumference during the initial 10 weeks.

Brouwer suggests that feeling connected to people in your neighborhood can increase adherence to healthy behaviors and improve overall outcomes of lifestyle interventions.

However, more research is needed to understand how neighborhood safety affects weight loss and if these feelings of safety are linked to other factors such as housing, stress, or poverty.

The Takeaway

The findings from this study suggest that our living environment could play a crucial role in our ability to successfully lose weight through lifestyle interventions.

If these findings are confirmed, it could have implications for public health policies, suggesting that improving neighborhood safety could be a key element in addressing obesity at a community level.

If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight .

For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies that the green Mediterranean diet can reduce belly fat much better, and a Keto diet could help control body weight and blood sugar in diabetes.

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