The prevailing wisdom for much of modern history has been that living in a city is bad for your health. Because why would you choose to live in such a crowded, noisy and polluted urban area when you can help space and peace and quiet out in the suburbs? While there are definitely positives to the suburban lifestyle, it might not be as healthy as you have been led to believe.
A study by the University of Oxford and the University of Hong Kong found that rates of obesity were lower in places where population is denser i.e. cities, compared to their lower density counterparts in the suburbs. In addition, the higher density folks had higher levels of socializing with others than those in the suburbs.
Based on these findings, the impact of urban living on overall health should be easy to determine. City dwellers typically walk more because everything they need is close to them. This results in lower obesity rates than in suburban and rural areas where sprawl forces most people to drive everywhere. Plus, being surrounded by others means city people spend more time socializing. That can have significant mental health benefits. Overall, this study concludes, living in urban areas isn’t as harmful to one’s well-being as the consensus seems to believe. There are many reasons why humans have chosen to live so close to one another throughout history. Even though technology has made it possible for us to live farther apart, that distance may be damaging to our health. For more details about how living in a city can mean a healthier lifestyle, see the charts on the accompanying guide.