Earlier this week, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health released a study that shows New Yorkers who "reside in densely populated, pedestrian-friendly areas have significantly lower body mass index levels compared to other New Yorkers." In other words, those people who rely on their feet, rather than other New Yorkers who live in the more spacious parts of the outer boroughs, tend to be thinner.
The study also implies that living near mass transit means you weigh less. The study, amongst over 13,000 New Yorkers, looked at the usual demographics, plus geographical information about proximity to public transport. From the study:
The authors discovered that three characteristics of the city environment - living in areas with mixed residential and commercial uses, living near bus and subway stops and living in population-dense areas - were inversely associated with BMI levels. For example, city dwellers living in areas evenly balanced between residences and commercial use had significantly lower BMIs compared to New Yorkers who lived in mostly residential or commercial areas.
"A mixture of commercial and residential land uses puts commercial facilities that you need for everyday living within walking distance," Dr. Andrew Rundle said [lead author of the study]. "You're not going to get off the couch to walk to the corner store if there's no corner store to walk to."
That walk to the bodega totally balances out the fact that you craved a pint of Haagen-Dazs in the first place!
A professor of nutrition at NYU, Sharron Dalton, had an interesting observation for the NY Sun. Dalton was surprised at the finding, saying, "Generally transportation promotes being overweight. As a subway rider every day, there are a lot of big people on the subway. I notice that all the time because I fit into the seats and a lot of people don't." Exactly!