Winter 2016

Pros and Cons of Life Near the Big City

Urbanization affects the health of farm families

As developing countries start to urbanize, cities become sources of jobs, health care and food for people who migrate from the countryside. But what does it mean for the people who stay on the farm?

Amelia Darrouzet-Nardi, N15, now an assistant professor of global health studies at Allegheny College, and William Masters, a Friedman School professor, looked at the history of 300W taxi city road revurbanization in 46 countries and compared it to health data on women and children in rural farm communities. They found that children in agricultural regions close to longer- established cities were less likely to be underweight or too short for their age, regardless of the family’s income. At the same time, their mothers were more likely to be overweight than moms on farms with less access to markets and urban services.

The findings suggest that farm families can benefit nutritionally from proximity to cities, but urban access comes with its own dangers.

The study was published in the journal Food Security.

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