Design Urban Design Urban Planners Make You Fat By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated October 11, 2018 Migrated Image Share Twitter Pinterest Email Design Tiny Homes Architecture Interior Design Green Design Urban Design Georgian London, with green squares everywhere April recently wrote Bike-Happy, Ped-Friendly Cities Less Obese, but how do they get that way? George Monbiot writes that "We are, to a surprising extent, what the built environment makes us," quoting a series of studies which show trees make us more social, quiet areas are friendlier and vegetation reduces crime. He also notes the relationship between urban planning and body mass index: Where settlements are dense (and therefore able to support public transport) and close to shops, work places and recreation places, people are more likely to walk and cycle and less likely to be fat. Vaughan, Ontario suburbs He continues: Build loose suburbs carved up by busy roads and without green spaces and you help to create a population of fat, lonely people plagued by criminals. Build dense, leafy settlements with mixed uses, protected from traffic, and you help to create safe, fit and friendly communities. Natasha Singer puts it more simply in the New York Times: It's the environment, stupid."Everyone knows that you shouldn't eat junk food and you should exercise," says Kelly D. Brownell, the director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. "But the environment makes it so difficult that fewer people can do these things, and then you have a public health catastrophe." When there are no parks within easy walking distance, when every kid has to be bused or driven to school, when they are surrounded by six lane arterial and need a lift to go anywhere, it is no surprise that they are getting fat and their parents are getting stressed driving them everywhere. It is difficult to eat a balanced diet when corn and soybeans are subsidized; The price of a Big Mac, adjusted for inflation, fell 5.44% in the last decade while fruits and vegetables increased by 17%. The real problem is a landscape littered with inexpensive fast-food meals; saturation advertising for fatty, sugary products; inner cities that lack supermarkets; and unhealthy, high-stress workplaces.