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Living in urban sprawls may be shortening your life expectancy

Urban sprawls are bad for health and life expectancy, as you end up overcoming more adversities and commute for longer to get to work, school or the grocery store, says a new study.

fitness Updated: Jul 05, 2018 10:41 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
Health,Fitness,Lifestyle
Urban sprawl refers to the expansion of human population away from central urban areas into low-density, monofunctional and car-dependent communities. (Shutterstock)

Living in an urban sprawl can affect your life expectancy in a negative way, says a new study done by the University of Texas. Urban sprawl refers to the expansion of human population away from central urban areas into low-density, monofunctional and car-dependent communities. Interestingly, life expectancy, economic mobility, transportation choices and personal health and safety all improve in less sprawling areas, says the study.

It is especially true in India. A 2017 report by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) found that hypertension is very common among men in urban India, and there was a rise in cases of diabetes, which was linked with overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, and an abnormal increase in the levels of fats, including cholesterol, in the blood.

“Alternatives, like the green building movement, have to become society’s staple and not the exception. People who live in poorer socioeconomic areas often have to overcome more adversities, like greater travel times just to get to work, school or the grocery store,” said researcher Shima Hamidi.

The study stresses on urban concepts of clustering of similar industry, walkability and proximity to urban amenities, diversity and regional connectivity. The findings appeared in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria, grow up to have stress-resilient immune system. (Shutterstock)

Other studies on urban living

Previous studies have also shown the health risks that need to be considered while designing urban spaces. A 2018 study found that urban design could be a factor leading to childhood obesity, and making neighbourhoods more walkable can have a positive impact on kids’ waist line and BMI (body mass index).

It highlighted the need for pedestrian-friendly amenities, such as crossing lights, wider sidewalks, and signs to help pedestrians cross the road, which are effective in high-density neighbourhoods. Such features could encourage children to ride bicycles, play outside, and engage in similar activities, all of which help them burn off energy, said the researchers.

A study done by researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany and the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder in the US found that children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria, grow up to have stress-resilient immune systems and may be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers. It also added evidence to the “hygiene hypothesis,” which stats that overly sterile environments can cause health problems.

(With inputs from ANI)

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First Published: Jul 05, 2018 10:40 IST