News from - The Nationlink Property Group

Urban sprawl makes you fat

There are many good reasons to support the densification of older suburbs and the resurgence of urban living, but the one most likely to grab the attention of all the non-town planners out there is the prospect of shedding a few kilos.

In the sprawling outer suburbs of many SA cities, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, residents often have little choice but to travel to work, school, the shops and recreational or sports venues by car.

"The distances are such that they have to drive or ride everywhere," he says, "whereas those living in older, core suburbs or inner cities can often walk to school, down to the local shops or round the corner to the gym.

"And a recent study of more than 200 000 people by the US Centres for Disease Control confirms what we intuitively know will be the natural result of that discrepancy in lifestyle. It found that on average, people living in the most spread out areas and far-flung suburbs weigh 3kg more than people who live closer to city centres in more compact suburbs.

"What is more, it found that people living on the edges of cities are more prone to high blood pressure - which does not say much for the joys of living out of town, but does speak to the growing stress related to frequent commuting on increasingly congested routes."

Inner cities and older suburbs often also have well-established amenties and infrastructures, and densification envisages better utilisation of these - and not only the existing water, telecommunications and electricity grids, but schools, hospitals, libraries and parks, for example.

"Denser residential areas also tend to generate community involvement and in time a more secure, generally safer environment, in line with the theory of safety in numbers. And contrary to the perception that dense residential areas do not offer a good quality of life, many such areas are renowned for their vibrant, live-work-and-play lifestyle that cannot be realised in out of the way areas," says Botha

"Admittedly a home in a more urbanised area may be smaller and without a large garden where children can run around, but as a trade off, families stand to make significant savings on transport costs, and to be able to access shops or their favourite recreation and entertainment venues much more easily."

Article by: Nationalink -