Moving to a better neighborhood can help people avoid type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes often try to find ways to improve their health. They eat nutritious diets, get exercise and try any method they can find to live healthier lifestyles. However, for some, this is still not enough. So what can be done to improve diabetic symptoms?

New research suggests that moving to a better neighborhood may be one way for individuals to gain control over their type 2 diabetes.

A team of investigators from the University of Chicago analyzed data collected from a group of families as part of the Moving to Opportunity program. This initiative began offering economically disadvantaged families vouchers to move to more prosperous neighborhoods between 1994 and 1998.

The researchers analyzed the health of participants of this program 15 years after they moved. Compared to groups of families in economically disadvantaged areas who did not move up, those who participated in the program had significantly lower rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The benefits were mainly a result of improved health among women and children.

Experts have known for years that rates of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseasse are much higher in low-income areas. The researchers said their findings show that a person's environment may be one of the biggest determinants in whether or not a person will become ill. An individual's income may have less to do with their risk.

"These results highlight the great importance of learning more about what specific aspects of the social or physical environment reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity; for example, greater access to grocery stores, more opportunities for physical activity or feelings of greater safety and reduced psychological stress," said lead researcher Jens Ludwig.

He added that the matter should be of concern to people from all income levels. The extremely high expenses associated with treating type 2 diabetes and obesity-related health conditions drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone. Figuring out strategies for addressing the situation may benefit all segments of society.