I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. - Romans 7:19
I believe this newly invented word obesogenic is helpful in thinking about how our environment and culture affect our individual bodies. I have had times in my life in which my environment was much healthier, and as a result I was physically much healthier.
For example, in 1986 (I think), I lived for a few months in Spain. While I was there, I had no access to fast food, junk food or even any dairy products. However, I ate whenever I wanted and drank whatever I wanted. I found when I returned home that my clothes were all loose and I felt fantastic. My tastes in food had even changed. Since then, I have tried to recreate that diet, but it is difficult because diet is so integrated into our culture and lifestyle.
I find more and more that the idea that we are all independent and that we are each as individuals totally responsible for our well-being to be false. Yes of course I am responsible for my own actions, but it is an acutely American way of thinking that disallows common action for improvement.
For example, I hate bike riding,... at least in Cincinnati. Yes the hills are one reason, but mostly I ride in the basin, so that is not the main reason. It is just way too dangerous, especially with children. And to take two kids with me on bikes is a huge ordeal. Just getting 3 bikes out the door with 3 helmets and bike locks and lights if it is dark, is just ridiculous. And downtown is not much different than many suburban areas (except that you have a garage to keep all the bikes). I really don't see that many suburban kids out riding beyond their cul-de-sac... because cars rule and it is too dangerous. Nothing like this.
I saw an item a few weeks ago a woman was prosecuted after her son was killed by a car while jaywalking. Frankly, I don't think jaywalking should even be a crime on any residential street. The prosecution of this poor woman is just an indication of how backwards American thinking is about walking vs cars. Cars rule, period.
We live in a motorgenic environment. Motorized vehicles rule our public streets and pedestrians and bicyclists are scared and pushed to the fringes. This attitude ruins cities. It destroys shopping streets, public spaces, streets and sidewalks.
Cars and walkers can only successfully mix if the actions of the car are restrained and the actions of the walkers and bikers are liberated.
We need to change from a motorgenic environment to a muscle-powered, socially oriented, pedestrian friendly environment.
‘We live in an obesogenic environment – a plethora of fast food outlets, reliance on cars, and offers enticing us to eat larger portions …’Professor Mike Kelly – as quoted in the Telegraph 8th October 2003
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