You already know that what you eat can make you fat. But findings from an Atlanta study that tracked travel patterns and body mass index shows where you live and how much you drive could have an effect on your weight, too. The study was published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
newspaper.The study of more than 10,500 Atlanta-area residents shows a strong link between time spent driving and obesity, said Lawrence Frank, the lead author and a professor at the University of British Columbia. People who can walk to stores and restaurants are less likely to be obese than their counterparts living in more sprawling areas. "I don't think people are equating their home-buying choices with their waistline," said Frank, a former professor at Georgia Tech. "The study shows they may want to give that a second thought."Findings show that every half hour spent in a car translates into a 3 percent greater chance of being obese. An average man living in a compact community with nearby shops and services is expected to weigh 10 pounds less than a similar man living in a low-density, residential-only cul-de-sac subdivision.The report comes from a study of land use and travel patterns in metro Atlanta known as SMARTRAQ, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Participants in 13 counties kept diaries, and some transmitted data through global positioning devices.