Monday, January 22, 2007

Does sprawl make us fat?

From the popular site, Boing Boing, they summarize a journal article that just recently came out asking whether or not "sprawl make us fat".

A community's so-called network efficiency influences its walkability. In an efficient network, such as in the grid-like neighborhood at left, pedestrians can walk relatively directly between any two points. The maze of cul-de-sacs at right forms an inefficient network.

The study showed that people who lived in a compact, mixed-use community (similar to one shown on the left side of the picture) weighed on average about 10 pounds less than someone who lived in a subdivision composed of nothing but homes (shown on the right side of the picture). Why? People are more willing to walk in compact mixed-use communities. This result should not be too surprising and it has been corroborated in other similar studies.

This result does lead to other important questions. If these subdivisions with nothing but houses and curvilinear and lollipop streets contribute to a reduced level of physical activity, there is ultimately a cost associated with the increased health problems that are going to arise. Who should pay for these increased health costs? The developers? The people who choose to live in these type of communities? People who live in compact, mixed-use communities who have the potential of living a more active lifestyle? What do you think?

To read more about this, visit the Science News website, and the associated article "Weighing In on City Planning".

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