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Fat Linked To Fear Factor According To New Study

DETROIT (WWJ) - Where you live can have major implications for your health later in life.

Young African American women who live in fear because of the violence in their neighborhoods are more likely to become obese when they reach their 20s and 30s according to new research from the University of Michigan reports WWJ's health reporter Dr. Deanna Lites.

The study followed women from age 15 until 32 who live in Flint as part of the community based study.

Researcher Dr. Shervin Assari says chronic environmental stress takes a toll on health.  [STUDY]

"We know that chronic stress makes you obese and then we know if you are afraid of going to your community ... in a neighborhood that's not safe makes you obese," said Assari.

Among the 681 young men and women followed for 18 years, there was no tendency toward obesity when either gender was asked about being the victims of or witnesses to crime.

"The health deteriorating effect of neighborhood crime is not limited to those who are physically beaten, battered or shot. The effect is far beyond a direct physical effect and extends to any individual who perceives the fear," said Assari. "Chronic anxiety due to fear from living in a high crime neighborhood is taking its toll on Flint residents."

He says the solution is not an individual one, but rather involves policy changes to the environment as a whole such as reducing crime and improving employment and education for residents.

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