INMD Researcher profile: Dr. Gillian Booth

Researcher profiles

Project title

The urban built environment and health: Implications for diabetes prevention


Dr. Gillian Booth is a scientist at the Keenan Research Centre, located in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital. She is an Associate Professor, in the Department of Medicine and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, at the University of Toronto.


The prevalence of diabetes in Canada has increased substantially over the past two decades, driven largely by the dramatic rise in obesity. Many factors within the environment have helped fuel the ongoing epidemic of obesity, including a trend toward larger portion sizes, the ubiquity of high-calorie convenience foods, and changes in zoning laws and urban design that discourage walking and increase our reliance on motorized transportation.


Healthy Cities – Diabetes Prevention is a research program that aims to identify population-based solutions to curb the growing burden of diabetes in Ontario – with a focus on the built environment and community design. Dr. Booth and her colleagues will examine the impact of healthy versus unhealthy urban environments – in terms of the degree to which they support physical activity and healthy eating – and the risk of diabetes.


Strategies to halt the diabetes epidemic are critical to minimizing future burden on the health care system caused by diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses. Research from our group and others suggests that modifying aspects of our environment could help to curb the rise in obesity-related conditions like diabetes. This research will help identify non-traditional avenues for the prevention of obesity-related diseases, such as policies around zoning, urban development and design, public transit, parks, recreational spaces, and healthy foods.

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