Physical Surroundings and the Risk for Obesity

My Bariatric Life Health Guide

  • Close your eyes and find a comfort zone. You know what I mean, a nice place where you can go either mentally or physically that raises your spirit and eases your soul. Now that you have arrived, look around and take it in. What does it look like? It could be anywhere.


    People may be born from the same mold, but once we spring free we are pretty diverse. One person’s comfort zone might be a surge of people, hustling and bustling to points unknown but alive with immediacy. They must get here or go there, and the rush of their purpose is shared. There is comfort in shared identity, the simple knowledge that we are not alone or on our own.

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    There are other possibilities, as well. Sandy white beaches coated in the aroma of sea salt while the ocean gently moves in and then out again. The hot sun that feels like a body massage and the occasional soft breeze across open skin.

    Perhaps you have placed yourself in a great forest, thick with trees and the flow of unseen streams. Dried branches crackle beneath the weight of animals both large and small. Blinks and streaks of sunlight sneak between the trees and spot a dirty brown trail in points of light and dark, light and dark. If you are on the trail, keep walking. Studies show that getting out and spending time in Mother Nature’s kitchen has a number of healthy benefits, including lower rates of obesity.

    Trees Please: Go Green and Get Lean

    Studies, both old and new, maintain that people who live in areas that have trees and clean open space are thinner than those who live in areas that are less natural.

    A study from 2005 showed that people who lived in areas with sparse greenery, litter, and graffiti were 50% more likely to be obese than people who lived in green, open areas. As a matter of fact, the study concluded that those who live in less pleasant areas were less healthy overall. 

    A more recent 2011 study came to the same conclusion: People who live in more natural areas are thinner than those who live in areas where lakes, hills and trees are less abundant. The study also discovered that living in a green environment has a direct impact on how much exercise a person gets. 

    The Link Between Green Surroundings and Physical Activity

    The question that is currently being explored is whether green environments promote physical activity or do people who are more active seek out green environments?

    Suggestions are being made that county officials explore what natural amenities are available to encourage greater degrees of physical activity. It is even being suggested that county leaders enhance natural surroundings with low-cost investments that might encourage residents to engage in physical activity more often.

    Although researchers agree that the study is not definitive proof that a green environment promotes more exercise and less obesity, it does lend additional evidence to the contention that the elimination of green surroundings is causing social harms.

    Living life well-fed,





  • References:
    Emax Health -
    WebMD -

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Published On: January 12, 2013