A new study suggests that your risk of developing diabetes could be influenced by your neighbourhood environment.
The research, published in the Diabetes Care journal, looked at data from the entire population of Toronto aged 30-64 (more than one million people) and identified those who didn’t have diabetes. They were then followed for five years to see if their risk of diabetes rose based on the location of their home.
To measure the ‘walkability’ of a neighbourhood, researchers from at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences developed an index based on factors such as population density, street connectivity and availability of walkable destinations within 10 minutes.
Using this index, they found that subjects living in the least walkable neighbourhoods, which were generally new areas with a suburban design and a dependency on cars, were much more likely to develop diabetes than those residing in more walkable areas.
This risk was particularly high for new immigrants living in low-income neighbourhoods, they added.
Dr. Gillian Booth, an endocrinologist and researcher at St. Michael’s and lead author of the study, said: “Although diabetes can be prevented through physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss, we found the environment in which one lives is also an important indicator for determining risk.”
She added that environment is an especially important factor for new immigrants as past studies have shown a greater risk of obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes within the first 10 years of arrival.

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