The obesity rate has been rising rapidly in America over the past two decades. Many factors have been identified as contributors to this ongoing public health crisis. The food industry plays a powerful role shaping public perceptions of food and eating behaviors, as this Vox article explains.
As a geographer, I am always concerned with the influence of our surrounding environment on what we perceive and how we behave. In this paper, my coauthors and I have considered the impacts of built and natural environments on physical inactivity and correspondingly obesity rate. We have made a couple of findings. First, higher street connectivity and walk scores are related to lower physical inactivity and obesity rates. In a more pedestrian-friendly environment with more streets and connections, people tend to be more physically active and less likely to be obese. Second, higher ratio of fast-food restaurants in a community is positively related to physical inactivity and obesity. Surprise, surprise, fast-food makes people become more obese, well, because in the fast-paced modernity, fast-food is literally fast and therefore convenient for people to grab and eat on the go.
Last but not least, the number of extreme weather events is also found to lead to physical inactivity and obesity. When extreme weather events occur, the environment outside the window all of a sudden becomes hostile. People are constrained inside, much less likely to get engaged in any exercises. So, these extreme weather events pose threats to not only public safety but also public health.
10/13/2017 08:55:59 pm
This topic is quite interesting to me, as I have had a personal experience involving obesity and someone I cared for. Let me start off by saying, obesity is truly a disease. Yes, I am aware that fast food is definitely fattening and unhealthy but for the most part, I believe that obesity all most always stems from personal issues such as anxiety and depression. Why? Because I have seen it first hand. As for the top 5 states with the highest obesity rate, it very rarely surprises me that all 5 are in the South. Rural areas in the South are a lot different than that of the North. For example, in Montgomery, Alabama you hardly ever see any type of cabs/ubers. People in the south literally drive right up to their destinations and walk maybe 50 feet. I have visited New York, rode in a cab for about 5 miles, and had a cab bill of about $75. Who really wants to pay that when you can just walk to your destination and save money, especially considering the high cost of living there? To say the least, the citizens of New York City get a tremendous amount of exercise everyday. Another cause for obesity is buffets (yes, they're great and all) but do people really know when to stop eating? I don't think so. Most people "eat their feelings" when they're sad, depressed, or even stressed. It is such an easy thing to do, but in my opinion, that is the time when staying away from food is your best choice. Obesity is not fun!
10/13/2017 10:47:18 pm
I totally agree with this post. The obesity rate is growing very rapidly. As Americans, we tend to do things we feel like they should be done, such as our eating habits. The inability to to discipline ourselves is another cause for the rapid growth of the obesity rate. The lack of exercise and the drive to become more physically fit is not thee anymore, due to the all different access routes to unhealthy foods.
Leave a Reply.