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"Health-Poor" -- The Discovery Files

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Women who move from high-poverty to lower-poverty neighborhoods may decrease their risk for diabetes and extreme obesity, according to a study led by the University of Chicago.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

(Sound effect: water submergence sound) You Are--Where You Live.

(Sound effect: theme music) I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: inner city sounds) A new study led by the University of Chicago reveals that when it comes to health risks, the odds are against women with children living in high-poverty neighborhoods. The study enlisted nearly 4500 volunteer families from the poorest sections of five major U.S. cities. All were enrolled in a HUD program called, "Moving to Opportunity," designed to help families move into less impoverished communities.

In the experiment, a random lottery determined that in each city, one group of families would receive housing vouchers to move to a lower-poverty neighborhood. The other group, the control group, got no assistance. The researchers focused on women, and the extent of extreme obesity and diabetes. Height, weight, and blood tests for diabetes were collected both at the time of enrollment in the 1990's and again in a follow-up between 2008 and 2010.

Among the group that received the vouchers, incidence of diabetes and obesity was cut by one-fifth. Where a woman lives with her children can have a significant effect on health. The study highlights the possibility that improving environments in low-income neighborhoods may lead to longer, better lives, with lower health-care costs. Location, location, location!

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's national science foundation. Federally sponsored research--brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

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