WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS
The Role of Design in Obesity and Diet-Related Disease
Obesity Trends in America
Elevators have largely replaced stairs as the preferred mode of vertical transportation, cars have replaced walking or biking, machines have taken the place of manual labor, and the surge of office jobs has led to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. As a result, more Americans than ever are reporting a lifestyle lacking in physical activity. In fact, more than half of adults in the United States are not regularly physically active, and over 25% of Americans report no leisure-time physical activity at all¹.
Children are also affected by the growing trend towards living a sedentary lifestyle. Over 61% of children ages 9 to 13 are reported as not participating in organized physical activity outside of school, and over 22% of children are
Changing eating habits have also played a critical role in contributing to the obesity epidemic. Over the past 30 years, the consumption of calories and carbohydrates has been on the rise, along with the intake of sugars and soda³. As consumption rates have risen, portion sizes have also continued to grow, and the availability of pre-packaged foods high in sugars and energy have also been on the uptick³. A flood of marketing and the typically low cost of these energy-rich foods make them all the more appealing to Americans, particularly those with low income levels³.
Causes of Obesity
Effects of Obesity
The Role of Neighborhood Walkability
When designing for walkability, the distance that people are willing to travel must be kept in mind. Studies indicate that the average American is willing to walk less than a quarter of a mile for errands, and sometimes as little as 400 feet¹. Below are the percentage of Americans willing to walk 500, 1,000, and 2,500 feet for their errands¹:
¹Frumkin, et. al. “Urban Sprawl and Public Health…”
²Walkable City: How Downtown can Save America, One Step at a Time
³American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30.4 (2006)
ªActive Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design