the poor and with few sports centers suffer the most



Increased physical activity is related to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. And, in turn, that the different neighborhoods have parks, green spaces or sports facilities are important determinants of exercise, especially in the most deprived areas.

A new study, developed within the project Heart Healthy Hoods from the University of Alcalá (UAH), confirms the relationship between the availability of these resources for sports and the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the city of Madrid. In addition, it studies the interactions with socioeconomic status and gender.

For this, the research team analyzed a sample of 1,270,512 residents between 40 and 75 years old, which represents 91% of the population of that age group in the capital. The results have recently been published in the journal Diabetology.

In the case of areas where there is not only less availability of sports facilities, but also a lower socioeconomic level, the increase is much greater in both obesity and diabetes, and especially in the case of women

Luis Cereijo, lead author (UAH)

“In neighborhoods with less availability of sports facilities, the population has up to 22% more obesity and up to 38% more diabetes than those with higher availability of resources for physical exercise”, explains to SINC Luis Cereijo, lead author and researcher in the Epidemiology of Physical Activity at the UAH and the RMIT University of Australia.

“Moreover, in the case of areas where there is not only less availability of sports facilities, but also a lower socioeconomic level, the increase is much greater in both obesity and diabetes, and especially in the case of women”, adds Cereijo.

Thus, areas with low availability of sports facilities and a lower socioeconomic level have 13% more obesity and 17% more diabetes than those with few resources to exercise but with a high socioeconomic level. In the case of women, they present an increase in the prevalence of diabetes more than double (24%) compared to men (10%) under the same conditions.

Improve cities to reduce disease

The economic impact of obesity will double in Spain in the next 40 years, according to a modeling study carried out in eight countries and published this month in the magazine BMJ Global Health.

If by 2050 we already know that two thirds of the planet will live in cities, we must focus on optimizing them to increase the health of many millions of people

Manuel Franco (UAH)

“Obesity and diabetes are chronic diseases that are highly prevalent all over the planet, both in low socioeconomic and high-income countries,” says Manuel Franco, Professor of Epidemiology at the UAH and the Johns Hopkins University from the US “This work shows that the place where we live, its urban characteristics, affect these important pathologies.”

“Studying the characteristics of the neighborhoods, who lives in them and how we can improve them to reduce the burden of diabetes and obesity is today a fundamental challenge,” he continues. “If by 2050 we already know that two thirds of the planet will live in cities, we must focus on optimizing them to increase the health of many millions of people.”

Accessible and inclusive physical activity

The authors propose an increase in resources for the practice of physical exercise in the most disadvantaged areas, in the form of new free sports facilities or with a low monthly price to make them accessible.

The authors intend that it be an inclusive physical activity and that it reaches the largest possible population.

“It is important that public administrations, especially municipalities, pay greater attention to sports policies. That they abandon the focus of sport as a form of leisure and free time and approach it as a tool to reduce health inequalities and improve health. quality of life of the population “, emphasizes Luis Cereijo.

They also emphasize the need to develop exercise programs with a gender perspective. “It is about being an inclusive physical activity that reaches the largest possible population – especially the one that is most neglected by public policies – to reduce disparities and improve data on obesity, diabetes and multiple cardiovascular diseases. related to inactivity, “he concludes.

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