Currently viewing the tag: "Obesity"


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The Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) recently came out with a report that, like so many other reports the last few years, illustrates the relationship between sprawl and obesity. The report argues that if planners are to reverse this crisis, they’ll need to find ways to get people out of cars and auto-centric communities and into denser, mixed-use neighborhoods where things are closer together. From the Toronto Star:
There’s no question there’s a connection between obesity, diabetes and heart-related diseases and the built environment, specifically sprawl, said co-author George McKibbon. Air quality is an issue, too, especially for those who live near highways. We also found that if you’re in a car four to five hours a day, social cohesion is at risk.

The report’s authors go on to say:

Good urban form is functional, economically and environmentally sustainable, and liveable, in a way that promotes public health. These communities offer a variety of housing options, facilities and open-space systems. They are walkable, cyclable, and include transit-oriented development, and promote alternatives to the single occupancy vehicle.

The report takes a close look at the issue of childhood obesity and how patterns of large, spread out schools have contributed by not allowing kids to walk to school. According to OPPI traffic engineer, Nick Poulos, simply by letting kids walk to and from school, we’d be healthier, pollution would be reduced, and neighborhood traffic would be reduced by 15 to 20 percent.

This is just one more reason why Miami needs to become denser and more transit-oriented. Do you know how much money per year is spent on obesity-related illness in the U.S. right now? Over $100 billion, including $60+ billion in direct medical costs and $50+ billion in lost productivity. That, my friends, is the very definition of a health and spending crisis.

You are where you live — think about it.

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Congratulations, Miami, you’ve just been honored by another dubious countdown. Forbes magazine recently came out with a list of the Top 20 Sedentary Cities in America, and Miami sits right at number 10. According to Forbes, was collected on body mass index (BMI), physical inactivity, and tv watching habits for America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. Data for BMI and inactivity was primarily collected from the Center for Disease Control, while Neilsen data was used to determine hours spent watching television.

More specifically, Miami came in fifth with an average of 35 hours of television watched per week. If that isn’t bad enough, 60% of residents are obese or overweight. Really no surprise here - this is what you get when you live in sprawl. Let’s take a look at the the other cities and see if there is a prevailing theme here:

1) Memphis
2) New Orleans
3) Las Vegas
4) Detroit
5) Birmingham
6) Louisville
7) San Antonio
8) Jacksonville
9) Nashville
10) Miami
11) Houston
12) Tampa
13) San Diego
14) Pittsburgh
15) Oklahoma City
16) Indianapolis
17) Atlanta
18) Richmond
19) Cleveland
20) Philadelphia

Well, in case you didn’t notice, most of these metros are located in the Sunbelt/South and are famous for their sprawling/auto-centric growth patterns (especially the Top 17). Richmond, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philly have all been hit hard by out-migration to the suburbs. Plus, these cities aren’t exactly famous for their healthy diets. Though it’s fairly obvious, there is a fast-growing body of studies addressing the link between land use and obesity/inactivity. Low density sprawl isn’t just bad because it’s unsustainable and costly - it’s killing us in our waistlines and hearts.

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

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Urban Planners and Medical Doctors are building a united front to tackle the link between sprawl and obesity.

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