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Suburbia linked to chronic health ailments

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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sep 27, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A U.S. study released Monday finds suburban sprawl can be linked to an increase in chronic health problems.

The RAND Corp. study found people living in areas with a high degree of suburban sprawl are more likely to have high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches and breathing difficulties.

Previous studies have shown suburban sprawl reduces the time people spend walking and increases the time they spend sitting in cars, the authors said. That can increase obesity rates, which could be a factor in the health problems.

The researchers suggest the findings mean an adult in Atlanta might have a health profile similar to someone four years older who lives in a more compact city such as Seattle.

The study is published in the October edition of the journal Public Health.

The worst suburban sprawl areas are: Riverside-San Bernardino region of California; Atlanta; Winston-Salem, N.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Bridgeport-Danbury-Stamford, Conn.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Rochester, N.Y., and Detroit.

Regions with the least amount of suburban sprawl include: New York City; San Francisco; Boston; Portland, Ore.; Miami; Denver; Chicago and Milwaukee.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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