This article examines the effect that vehicle dependence land use separation has on the health of a city’s residents. The built environment is such that it discourages active transport (walking, biking, using public transit) leading to chronic disease, and heavy pollutants from vehicle emissions which increases the chances of getting cardiovascular or respiratory diseases.
Several studies by the Transportation Research Board and Institute of Medicine have related neighborhood design with the health of populations. People that live in more traditional neighborhoods, on a grid pattern, with street connectivity walk an average of 30 more minutes a week than those with newer suburban designs that promote dendritic street networks. Five studies found that people in sprawled areas are more likely to be overweight, or obese, unlike their walkable neighborhood dwelling counterparts. There is a superfluous amount of evidence of people walking more in neighborhoods with mixed land use. These neighborhoods with better street connectivity have less nitrogen, and volatile organic compound emitted from vehicles which contributes to asthma, and other respiratory ailments. This study aims to integrate the often separately studied effects of the built environment on obesity and air quality.
The specific research hypothesis was to prove the relationship between single-use, low density areas with low transit use and walking, and high occurrences of obesity and other diseases caused from vehicle emissions. The researchers wanted to conduct a study of both of these elements in one area in order to determine what the combined effects of low density on health would be in Kings County, Washington.
The study used the National Quality of Life Study (NQLS) to study rates of physical activity and obesity in unison with the Land Use, Transportation, Air Quality, and Health Study (LUTAQHS) of King County to look at air quality. Walkscore was used as the measure for the built environment, and Z scores were tabulated for each built attribute. The NQLS was conducted in 16 neighborhoods with 75 participants each. LUTAQHS collected travel data from 5,766 respondents in order to access relationship between transit choices on air quality. Linear regression was used to predict BMI and active transportation using the walkability index, and VMT and…