Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Suburbs don't make you fat

Your bacteria may be making you fat!

You see it everywhere - the propaganda that living in the suburbs is inherently unhealthy.  It's bad for the environment and it's bad for people.  Because people in the suburbs are dependent on cars, they don't get enough exercise walking and biking in a more "vibrant" town center or more dense neighborhoods built around neighborhood villages.  People have become obese because they drive everywhere.

But wait!  

I grew up in the suburbs, and obesity was rare.  It isn't the suburbs - the physical layout of houses and where shopping and services are located - fat is caused by something else.  So far the obesity culprits (never mentioned by Central Planners) are:
  • Stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep
  • Fast food, convenience food, eating out
  • Abundance of store-bought food, but little time to grow and cook food at home
  • Snack food and sugary drinks/sodas
  • Latchkey kids who have to stay indoors
  • Computers, video games, TV and other sedentary activities
  • Busy lives - adults all working, few stay-at-home wives or husbands
  • Parents pick their kids up from school or kids drive - kids don't walk home
None of these conditions existed when I was growing up - in the suburbs - except a few kids had cars in high school.  Life is different now, and people are fatter.  Humans weren't made to live a modern lifestyle.
Now we have one more cause to add to the list: gut bacteria.  This is fascinating research - here is a great article and video from the Wall Street Journal.  This is a cautionary tale about using too many antibiotics and antibiotics in food, but you can't blame the suburbs and cars.

People still walk and ride bikes in the suburbs.  In fact, people living in suburbs are healthier than people in either urban or rural environments.  So next time someone tries to blame obesity on the suburbs or driving cars, tell them to go take a walk - and go research their "facts."

(P.S. People in Europe and Scandinavia where most live in dense, urban areas are getting fatter too - they just have a long way to go to catch up to America.)

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