Friday, February 03, 2012

The good life can be a killer.

I've enjoyed the recent piece on our dysfunctional modern community structures by Jane Brodie (who got her journalism degree at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where I teach). and shopping malls far from city centers…[have created] creating vehicle-dependent environments that foster obesity, poor health, social isolation, excessive stress and depression…Physical activity has been disappearing from the lives of young and old, and many communities are virtual “food deserts,” serviced only by convenience stores that stock nutrient-poor prepared foods and drinks…people in the current generation (born since 1980) will be the first in America to live shorter lives than their parents do.

In a healthy environment…people who are young, elderly, sick or poor can meet their life needs without getting in a car, which means creating places where it is safe and enjoyable to walk, bike, take in nature and socialize…People who walk more weigh less and live longer…People who are fit live longer… People who have friends and remain socially active live longer…In 1974, 66 percent of all children walked or biked to school By 2000, that number had dropped to 13 percent…We’ve engineered physical activity out of children’s lives…two in seven volunteers for the military can’t get in because they’re not in good enough physical condition…Not only are Americans of all ages fatter than ever, but also growing numbers of children are developing diseases once seen only in adults: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and fatty livers.
On the question of whether our suburbs can be saved, Brodie notes environmental redesigning projects to foster better physical and mental health proceeding in Atlanta, GA., Lakewood, CO., Syracuse, NY, and Elgin, IL. (and, see

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