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Groundbreaking study links diabetes prevalence to neighbourhood characteristics

Doctors Rick Glazier and Gillian Booth lead study that finds disease rates connected to urban sprawl.

Toronto, November 1, 2007

Scientists at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences are showing that where you live influences your risk of diabetes.

A study led by family physician-scientist Rick Glazier, of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital, and Hospital endocrinologist Dr. Gillian Booth examined neighbourhood characteristics in relation to diabetes in 140 areas of Toronto.

The first-of-its kind study found diabetes rates were highest in areas that have lower income levels, higher unemployment rates, a higher proportion of visible minorities and higher immigration rates. What's more, urban sprawl is playing a role in the growing epidemic, with high rates of diabetes found outside the city's downtown core and in suburban areas where there is reduced access to healthy resources and lower levels of "activity friendliness" (fewer amenities within walking distance, poorer access to public transit, and greater car dependency).

Researchers found the top three affected areas with high diabetes rates in Toronto are Humber Summit with the highest rate of diabetes and the least healthy resources. Malvern comes in second and Keelesdale-Eglinton W. in third.

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