Harvard School of Public Health researchers analyzed housing and medical data of 2,078 study participants in Massachusetts from 1987 to 2008. This information was assessed against collected address data on foreclosure deeds, participants’ proximity to foreclosure activity and participants’ body mass index levels.
Results showed that foreclosure activity 100 meters in proximity to participants significantly predicted likelihood of higher body mass index levels. It also found that the greater number of foreclosures one is exposed to might increase the odds of being overweight.
“Clinicians working with patients in neighborhoods hard-hit by the recent housing crisis should be aware of the potential stressors associated with localized foreclosure activity, including perceived loss of wealth, friends moving away, visible trash accumulation, overgrown lawns and perceived danger, among others,” the researchers wrote.
“Policymakers at the state and federal levels, community development corporations, lenders, housing planners and municipal officials should likewise take such effects into account when making housing-related decisions,” the study’s authors suggest.
“While previous research has found that foreclosure is unhealthy for homeowners who are losing their properties, we now see that neighbors’ health may also be affected by what’s happening next door,” the authors conclude.
Effects of proximate foreclosed properties on individuals’ weight gain in Massachusetts, 1987-2008 – Mariana Arcaya, American Journal of Public Health