Where you live may affect your waistline. We may not think that our environment changes our behavior, but there is evidence that it does.

The Waistline Effect:

British researchers report that people who live near exercise facilities like swimming pools, playing fields and gyms are slimmer than their counterparts who live far away from such facilities (Lancet Public Health, online, Dec. 12, 2017). Living near a fast food restaurant, on the other hand, seemed to increase the risk of obesity. The negative effect of fast food was not quite as strong as the positive effect of a gym, however.

The researchers analyzed information on weight and waistline for about 400,000 adult Britons. Most people had only one exercise option within a kilometer of home, and a third of the respondents didn’t have any opportunities for exercise that close. People who had six places they could work out weighed less and had a smaller waistline than those with no nearby options.

Fast Food:

For most of the people in the study, the nearest fast food place was just over a kilometer away from their home. But 20 percent could get to fast food much faster–in half a kilometer or less. Those who lived at least two kilometers away were more slender than those who lived so near.

The investigators conclude

“Policy makers should consider interventions aimed at tackling the obesogenic built environment.”

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