The prevailing wisdom for much of modern history has been that city living is bad for your health. We’ve all heard it: Why would you choose to live in a noisy, crowded, urban environment when you could stretch out in the suburbs with all the extra space. While there are positives to the suburban lifestyle, it might not be as good as you think.
A recent study conducted by the University of Oxford and the University of Hong Kong found that obesity rates are lower where the population is denser. In addition, people who live in cities socialize more often than those who live in places with lower density 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.