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Sports ground vs fast food joint

Not only do our genes and lifestyle, but also our immediate surroundings, contribute to the development of weight problems. A recent study by the Lancet Public Health of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that an individual’s proximity to a sporting venue is reflected in their waist circumference, body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage. During the four-year study, more than 500,000 British people were examined. The results were then compared with the data of the subjects’ place of residence. The study showed that those living more than one kilometer away from a sports field or gym had, on average, a larger waist circumference (+ 1.22 cm), a higher BMI (+ 0.57 kg/m2) and a higher percentage of fat (+ 0.81%), than people who had access to sports facilities in their immediate vicinity.

Overweight and obesity have many causes. These include a genetic predisposition and, above all, lifestyle factors. Increasing urbanization is cited as one of the main reasons for the global increase in overweight and obesity. City life usually promotes a non-physiological lifestyle and thus contributes to weight gain and its associated diseases. Thanks to cars and public transport, shorter distances are covered on foot or bicycle. In addition, cities offer ubiquitous access to cheap and high calorie food. Snacks, restaurants and fast-food chains are omnipresent and provide a convenient alternative to cooking.

The results of the London study mirror these facts. The study revealed that a food stall or fast food restaurant within a radius of less than 500 m affects our body’s nutritional status. However, the effects of fast food restaurants are much weaker than the lack of available sports facilities. Therefore, the authors of the study recommend structural and legislative prevention measures. According to them, a lower density of food stands and the addition of  sports fields nearby, are therefore an important step in the fight against obesity.

Still, our residential environment is not necessarily responsible for our weight gain alone,  although it can have a decisive influence on our behavior and lifestyle. While a quick snack within walking distance may be easier than driving several kilometers to the gym, it is crucial to consider the role of our general lifestyle. In addition to a balanced diet, regular weight checks are as much of a salient factor in preventing obesity, as is exercising sufficiently. Weighing should therefore become a daily routine. For this very purpose, seca offers a wide range of suitable scales for medical use.

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