New report on obesity from Trust for America’s Health. The US obesity rate has risen to 32 percent—an increase from just 15 percent in 1980. And 66 percent of adults are “overweight,” a classification that also includes obesity.
But one curiosity gets overlooked: national rates of adult obesity and overweight have risen almost not at all since 2000. (That’s not true for children.) See the charts on page 3 of this pdf for details.
What’s going on? Why have the rates of adults who are overweight and obese hit a plateau at roughly two-thirds and one-third, respectively? Could we be doing something right that’s helping to arrest adult weight gain—something that’s not working equally well for children?
It’s a mystery to me.
Meanwhile, US Cascadians are neither the fittest nor the fattest in the nation….
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The 10 states with the highest obesity rates are all in the southeast. The trimmest states, on the other hand, are all in the northeast or west. Montana, part of which is in Cascadia, is the 7th slimmest state in the nation, and the leanest in the Northwest.
Here’s how things break down in the Northwest:
As we’ve pointed out, one of the best ways to address obesity, may be to address urban design. We can design places that encourage walking and make driving a choice, not a necessity. And by enlarging options for active transportation, especially walking, we may be able to keep from enlarging ourselves.
Even a small amount of daily physical activity—just a few minutes of walking—can be enough to stop the slow but steady accretion of weight that confounds Americans’ best intentions to stay trim.
Having lived in Japan where the daily commute involved at least a mile of walking, I can attest that an urban high density lifestyle can keep the pounds off. However, high per capita mental health issues in Tokyo and our running group being named the “black lung club” due to the color of the particulates we’d cough up offer a cautionary counter note. In our region, commutes without exercise, long hours in the office, sedentary jobs, time spent on non-sport hobbies, television, the internet and even (gasp) reading habits all contribute. I hope at least that we’re brainier than our past generation and slimmer counterparts.Good urban design including walkable neighborhoods can help, but is not the panacea.
Good urban design including walkable neighborhoods can help, but is not the panacea. I agree Arie. If the folk living in walkable neighborhoods commute 3 hrs/day, then they likely won’t be utilizing the sidewalks in the neighborhood too often.Narrowing the live-work gaps is an essential first step.Regards,