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Thread: Health Impacts of Suburban Development

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Health Impacts of Suburban Development

    Heard it on the CBC, and investigated further. If Doctor's are saying it, it must be true.

    http://www.ajph.org/news/newsrel.shtml
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Read the end of the full study. The researchers discuss the limitations of their study. They say the data cannot control for this and that and therefore more study is needed to fill these gaps.........CHA CHING!
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Re: Health Impacts of Suburban Development

    Originally posted by donk
    Heard it on the CBC, and investigated further.
    Thanks donk I heard that too and couldn't find a link on the CBC site when I had a quick look this morning.

    I don't think it is too much of a stretch, in some cases, despite the limitations.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    My problem is, even though the researchers do not imply causality, the smart growth people wave this study around like it does. Perhaps the people prone to obesity select these places to live because they fit their lifestyle. That would mean that their lifestyle choices caused the obesity, not the built environment. The study even comes out and says that in the folks who exercised, there was no difference in the amount of exercise in the different locations.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Originally posted by giff57
    My problem is, even though the researchers do not imply causality, the smart growth people wave this study around like it does. Perhaps the people prone to obesity select these places to live because they fit their lifestyle. That would mean that their lifestyle choices caused the obesity, not the built environment. The study even comes out and says that in the folks who exercised, there was no difference in the amount of exercise in the different locations.
    Perhaps another way to look at it is that suburbs without sidewalks and other walkable areas enable people who would tend to not exercise a lot to continue to avoid exercise. Sure there are people, obese or out of shape, who wouldn't walk to anything, no matter how close. There are also people, like me, who would walk a lot more if it were more convenient (walk to work, movies, grocery store etc, school and kid's activities). So, the built environment does not cause the obesity or poor exercise choices but it **may** discourage those who know they should get out and about more from doing so.

    I guess to try to put it more simply, the built environment does not make it easy to change exercise habits.

    But maybe this doesn't make any sense at all..... to anybody but me.

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    I think your point does make sense. There is of course, no direct causality. Active sports nuts will be active sports nuts whether they live in a Manhattan high rise or on a five acre "ranchette" in the distant exurbs.

    I think the problem is more what you said: we are making life effortless. Our development patterns actively DISCOURAGE walking and encourage this effortless lifestyle. This is an American dream. In the 1810s, Toqueville noted that Americans never walked when they could ride a horse or in a wagon-so its a national trait. Since we no longer do physical labor (few of us-and even the physical jobs use power tools and labor saving devices-modern garbage collectors don't lift cans anymore), and we don't and can't walk for daily needs, how can we not get fat.

    On a related but different note , suburbs are a preferred habitat for the archetypical American business-the fast food restaurant and the warehouse club. The marketing campaigns of national fast food restaurants contribute to obesity by linking excess to "bargains." Have TWO giant cheeseburgers for the price of one. (By no means am I saying that fast food doesn't exist in the City). Bill Maher (that evil traitor) had an interesting link the other day that pointed out that American food portions are 35%-50% bigger than Anti-Freedom (I mean French) portions-across the board-candy bars, Chinese restaurant meals, even "Big Macs." Look at the horrible crap loaded onto the gigantic shopping carts at Sam's Club, WalMart, and Costco.

    We go for gluttony in this country.

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    JMF posted
    Perhaps another way to look at it is that suburbs without sidewalks and other walkable areas enable people who would tend to not exercise a lot to continue to avoid exercise.
    Austin French, a planner for HRM, was interviewed in conjunction with this story. His observations are similar to yours. Basically, build sidewalks and people will walk, don't build sidewalks and people will avoid walking . He also mentioned ideas of local service centres to reduce auto dependence.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    But, given the obsessive need for "bargains," can local service centers compete with deathstar WalMarts and 70,000 supermarkets. Davis, near me, tried to limit supermarket sizes artifically through the zoning ordinance. The effort was pretty much hooted down, and subequently at least two smaller supermarkets I am aware of have closed (while megamarts have opened in the subruban parts of town). Vacaville, where I live, has seen the same trend.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Originally posted by jmf
    So, the built environment does not cause the obesity or poor exercise choices but it **may** discourage those who know they should get out and about more from doing so.

    I guess to try to put it more simply, the built environment does not make it easy to change exercise habits.

    But maybe this doesn't make any sense at all..... to anybody but me.
    That's probably true for the people who are on the exercise fence, but what about my point of people's choices? Are you/they/whoever suggesting that we force people to live in our uber planned utiopias because we know it's best for them.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    To a certain extent, isn't today's suiburban environment as guilty of being "uber-planned" as the traditional, pedestrian-oriented town. Its just planned by traffic engineers, corporate retail real estate experts, and homebuilders, not "planning" staff.

    Hey-I like arguing both sides of an issue.

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    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Originally posted by giff57
    That's probably true for the people who are on the exercise fence, but what about my point of people's choices? Are you/they/whoever suggesting that we force people to live in our uber planned utiopias because we know it's best for them.
    I think I am suggesting that in many cases it does not take a lot to make suburbs a little more pedestrian friendly, ie adding sidewalks so people don't have to walk on the street, and those who don't want to use those additions don't have to. The same way that just because there is a church less than a block from my home doesn't mean I have to go

    Crap, just got hit by lightning, again.

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