Geographer highlights postcode lottery over diabetes and obesity risk

Posted by ap507 at Nov 14, 2014 04:40 PM |
Professor to describe uses of Geographical Information Systems in free public lecture on 2 December at University of Leicester

The work of geographers at the University has helped to identify a postcode lottery that increases your risk of developing diabetes or obesity. This and other aspects of how geography can advance our understanding of society will form the basis of a free lecture on 2 December.

Recent research, published in Public Health Nutrition, found that there was a higher number of fast-food outlets within 500 metres of inner-city neighbourhoods described as non-white as well as in socially deprived areas. The study provides a new public health understanding that could influence policies to limit the number of fast food outlets in deprived areas.

Professor Lex Comber (pictured), from the Department of Geography, was involved in the study published ahead of World Diabetes Day on Friday November 14.  He said: “Postcodes provide a way of locating people or properties.  We created a database of fast food outlets by scraping a business directory for fast food outlets in Leicester. For each of the people that were screened we calculated the number of fast food outlets within 500m using their postcode.

“The study discovered there is TWICE the number of fast-food outlets in inner city neighbourhoods with high density non-white ethnic minority groups and in socially deprived areas.

“The work was unusual because it analysed the neighbourhood factors from an individual perspective. We created  a personal neighbourhood for each individual, rather than placing the individual in a set pre-defined neighbourhoods.

“This work highlights the value of explicitly considering location of risk factors associated with public health such as Type-2 diabetes at an individual level.”

Professor Comber will be discussing the techniques behind this study at a professorial inaugural lecture on Tuesday 2 December.

'My journey through time and space (via habitats, land use, demographics and geo-computation): a Spatial Odyssey' will be delivered by Professor Comber at 5.30pm in the Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 1.  The lecture is free and open to the public.

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