Can not owning a car make you fatter? Iteems conventional wisdom would have it that people who don't own cars might tend to get more exercise having to walk everywhere they go, no? No. Well not completely, at least according to a new study that appears in the September issue of the Journal of Urban Health. While the study doesn't imply that walking isn't good exercise, it does take a closer look at where those people without cars are walking to. And if you happen to live in a poorer neighborhood, you're probably walking to a fast food restaurant, which is bad.

It's not a novel idea to think that you might be heavier if you live in an area with a lot of fast food options, but this study also takes into account that people with cars might be able to drive to find healthier dining options. And they were right. After studying 2,156 adults from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Study database, the researchers found that car owners weighed about 8.5 pounds more than those who didn't own cars on average.

That makes sense, but they also found that in neighborhoods with lots of fast food joints, non-car owners whose data they reviewed weighed 12 pounds more than car-less folks in areas without fast food restaurants, and 2.7 pounds more than their neighbors who owned cars. The dichotomy is that the skinniest people proved to be those who didn't have cars, but lived in areas with fewer fast-food restaurants. Which, as one might suspect, tends to be upscale neighborhoods. So if you live in an area with a lot of Mickey D's and KFC's, you might want to get yourself some wheels. Car ownership... it's the new Atkins!

[Source: Journal of Urban Health via L.A. Times Blog | Image: Tim Boyle/Getty]

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