Where people live affects their health, weight, and well-being. Studies have pointed to multiple links between residential location, aspects of the surrounding built environment, and the neighborhood prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Among the physical built environment features that have been proposed to lower obesity and T2D risk are neighborhood walkability to support daily activity, access to healthy food sources such as supermarkets and farmers’ markets, fewer neighborhood fast foods or convenience stores, and more parks and trails. This study is using data from Kaiser Permanente Washington (KPWA), a large, integrated health insurance and care delivery system. By attaching a geographic context to anonymized KPWA electronic medical records in King County, Wash., researchers are examining the impacts of individual-level neighborhood built environment factors on body weight and glycemic control over a 12-year period. As a subcontract to the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, the UW Urban Form Lab is providing necessary data on land-use and mix, transportation infrastructure, neighborhood composition, and traffic conditions. Armed with the study’s findings, urban planners and policymakers will be able to target different built environment features for intervention and help to create demand for those neighborhood features that are most likely to support health.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
Scheduled completion: June 2022