Less sprawl equals better quality of life

April 3, 2014 by Reid Ewing, University of Utah
Credit: Smart Growth America

A new report shows positive economic and health benefits for those living in more compact metropolitan areas. The study was released today by Smart Growth America and authored by Reid Ewing, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah.

People in compact, connected metropolitan regions are more likely to move up the economic ladder, have lower household costs, enjoy more transportation choices and lead longer, safer, healthier lives according to a new report out today by Smart Growth America.

Measuring Sprawl 2014 evaluates development in 221 major metropolitan areas in the United States, and ranks these areas based on how sprawling or compact they are. The report also examines how sprawl relates to life in those communities, based on factors like , the cost of housing and transportation, life expectancy, obesity, chronic disease and safety.

"Smart growth strategies are about making life better for everyone in a community," said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. "If policymakers are looking for ways to lower costs for their constituents, improve public health and support their broader economy, they need to be thinking about how to improve their development."

"This is the most extensive study to date to define and measure the costs and benefits of sprawl development," said Reid Ewing, Director of the University of Utah's Metropolitan Research Center and primary author of the new research. "We found that as a region's scores improved—that is, as an area sprawled less—several quality of life factors improved along with them, including greater economic mobility, lower combined costs of housing and transportation and higher life expectancies. This research demonstrates the many ways our development decisions impact us every day, and informs how better development practices can improve our quality of life."

"This report will have a strong influence on the next decade of research concerning relationships between the built environment, urban planning, and health both in the US and worldwide," said David Berrigan of the National Institutes of Health, which sponsored the research. "Sustainable behavior change involving diet, weight and physical activity has proved difficult to achieve through individual level interventions. Dr. Ewing's focus on urban sprawl as a modifiable environmental factor correlated with obesity, physical activity and environmental exposures is an important element of how we can place health criteria in planning decisions on a stronger and more evidence based footing."

Explore further: Gap in life expectancy between rural and urban residents is growing

More information: The rankings and report are available online: www.smartgrowthamerica.org/measuring-sprawl

Related Stories

Gap in life expectancy between rural and urban residents is growing

January 24, 2014
Reducing health inequalities and increasing life expectancy in the United States have both been primary goals of the national health initiative, Healthy People 2020. Unfortunately, according to a new study in the American ...

Recommended for you

Accurate measurements of sodium intake confirm relationship with mortality

June 21, 2018
Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? Recent cohort studies have contested that relationship, ...

Fans of yoga therapy have yet to win over doctors

June 21, 2018
Yoga practitioners often tout the unique health benefits of the ancient discipline—from relieving stress and pain to improving vascular health—but most doctors remain sceptical in the absence of hard proof.

Fruit and vegetables linked to changes in skin colour, new research finds

June 21, 2018
Skin colour in young Caucasian men is strongly linked to high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, new research by Curtin University has found.

What a pain: The iPad neck plagues women more

June 20, 2018
Is your iPad being a literal pain in the neck?

Medicaid work requirements and health savings accounts may impact people's coverage

June 20, 2018
Current experimental approaches in Medicaid programs—including requirements to pay premiums, contribute to health savings accounts, or to work—may lead to unintended consequences for patient coverage and access, such ...

Introduction of alcohol found to adversely impact fertility rates in hunter-gatherer community

June 19, 2018
Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, a research director with the French National Centre for Scientific Research has found that the introduction of alcohol to a Baka pygmy hunter-gatherer society caused fertility rates to fall. In his ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.