A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine “found that families who moved to lower-poverty neighborhoods had lower levels of obesity and diabetes than those who stayed behind. What’s more, the improvements in health were as significant as those that typically result from targeted diet and exercise interventions or the use of medications to treat diabetes,” reported TIME Healthland.

“Most of the families…were followed for an average of 12 years. (Those who moved) were 19% less likely to have a BMI of 40 or higher, the cutoff for morbid obesity, and 22% less likely to have glucose levels typical of diabetes, compared with those who stayed in public housing.”

The moves were made possible by a 1990 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program called Moving to Opportunity. The study does not provide cost-benefit analysis on the associated health improvements; however, as author Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago notes, “The results suggest that over the long term, investments in improving neighborhood environments might be an important complement to medical care when it comes to preventing obesity and diabetes.”

Health Impact Bond is one way to support this investment.