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Moving to a Poorer Neighborhood Might Be Bad for Your Waistline

Study finds where you live could make a difference in how much you weigh

FRIDAY, May 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Packing up and moving to a poorer neighborhood may also mean packing on extra pounds, new research suggests.

The study included more than 1,800 Dallas County residents, aged 18 to 65. The researchers tracked their health and lifestyle for seven years.

During the study period, more than 260 participants moved to a poorer neighborhood, and nearly 600 moved to a wealthier neighborhood. About 50 moved to a similar neighborhood, and more than 900 stayed in the same neighborhood, according to the report.

People who moved to a poorer neighborhood gained more weight than those who moved to a similar or wealthier neighborhood, or remained in the same neighborhood, the study found. In addition, the poorer a neighborhood was, the greater the weight gain.

Among those who moved to a poorer neighborhood, the investigators found that the risk of weight gain was highest among those who lived in that neighborhood for more than four years.

But while the researchers found an association between moving to a poorer neighborhood and an increased risk of weight gain, the study wasn't designed to prove that living in a poor neighborhood actually caused the weight gain.

The study was published online May 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The findings show the potential impact that moving to a poorer neighborhood might have on weight gain and risk of obesity, lead investigator Dr. Tiffany Powell-Wiley, of the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in a journal news release.

It may be possible to lower this risk through targeted community-based public health programs and changes in public policy that reduce poverty in affected neighborhoods, she added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about weight.

SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, news release, May 8, 2015
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