A Canadian study comparing neighborhoods that varied in “walkability” found that people living in neighborhoods with greater walkability had an average 13% lower likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes over 10 years, compared to those living in less walkable neighborhoods. However, walkability was only protective in those who were younger and middle aged; those who were age 65 or older saw no benefit from living in a walkable neighborhood.
Over the ten years of the study, the incidence of diabetes fell 7% in the most walkable neighborhoods, but rose 6% in the least walkable neighborhoods. Similarly, the incidence of excess weight (being overweight or obese) fell by 9% in the most walkable neighborhoods and rose 13% in the least walkable neighborhoods.
People who lived in the most walkable neighborhoods were three times more likely to walk or bicycle and half as likely to drive as a means of transportation.
The study was presented at the American Diabetes Association's 74th Scientific Session.