A new study by David Bassett of the University of Tennessee and John Pucher of Rutgers University found that gee, if you drive more and cycle or walk less, you tend to be fatter. They are quoted in Wired:
"Countries with the highest levels of active transportation generally had the lowest obesity rates," Bassett and Pucher conclude in the study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. "Walking and bicycling are far more common in European countries than in the United States, Australia and Canada. Active transportation is inversely related to obesity in these countries."
There might be other factors, though; TreeHugger has looked at a few of them over the years.
Suburbs Make You Fat
Researchers are finding that suburban dwellers are significantly fatter than their urban counterparts, primarily because they drive everywhere, even to the fitness club.
"In a livable city, it should be possible and pleasant to reach restaurants, shops and entertainment on foot. Those who insist on riding bicycles should be able to do so safely and find bike racks on every street. An efficient subway or light-rail system not only makes it cheap and easy to get around town while legally drunk, it also provides more walking opportunities from home to station and station to destination."
US Cities Make You Fat
Cheap Gas Makes You Fat
A recent study by Charles Courtemanche of Washington University in St. Louis looks at the relationship of gas prices and obesity. He found that in the years where gas prices were stable or declining in real dollars (graph right) the obesity rate climbed constantly. More at Cheap Gas Makes You Fat
Being Surrounded by Fast Food Restaurants Makes You Fat.
A new Canadian study has determined that there is a direct relationship between a city's obesity rate and the number of fast food restaurants per capita.
"We found there was actually a fairly strong relationship, a strong correlation between the two, that those cities that had higher obesity and overweight rates tended to have a higher density of at least the larger fast-food restaurant chains, so there were more restaurants per person in those cities."
More in You Are Where You Eat
The Government Makes You Fat
Michael Pollan notes that Government policy determines what we eat and why "the most reliable predictor of obesity in America today is a person’s wealth." He quotes a study by Drewnowski of the University of Washington, who determined that a dollar will buy 1200 calories of cookies or chips but only 250 calories of carrots. If you don't have a lot of money, the most rational thing to do is buy junk food to get the most calories for your buck.
Gender Bender Chemicals Make You Fat
Experiments at the University of California at Irvine by Bruce Blumberg indicate that endocrine disruptors make you fat. He looked at the fungicide Tributyltin.
"What we discovered," Blumberg said, is that tributyltin disrupted genetic interactions that regulate fat-cell activity in animals. "Exposure to tributyltin is increasing the number of fat cells, so the individual will get fatter faster as these cells produce more of the hormones that say 'feed me,'" Blumberg said. The exposed animals, he added, remain predisposed to obesity for life.
McMansions Make You Fat
We do go on about living with less and complain about monster houses, but perhaps it is because bike riding vegetarian treehuggers simply take up less space. Dean Johnson plotted increases in house square footage against increases in obesity in the US and found this surprising correlation. Did Americans grow to fit the environment or did the houses grow to fit the Americans? Supersized Houses and People