Friday, July 2, 2010

Still Got That Big Ass?

It's that time of year again, the time when people who monitor such things tell us what we don't want to hear: we're a bunch of fatty fat-asses. Still. And while Vermont and New England in general are less dimensionally-gifted than the rest of the country, the trend is in the wrong direct. Obesity increased in all six states.

There are some positive developments to be noted. One is that nearly every state, as well as the federal government, has developed programs to reduce obesity. Another positive is the trend away from driving by today's youth. Fewer teenagers are getting driver's licenses, though that doesn't necessarily mean they are using a more strenuous means of transport. But it may mean that cars are less important as status symbols. A weaker cult of the automobile means that people are more likely to consider and support transportation options other than motor vehicles. A third positive is the increasing support for bicycling as an option for commuting. The current Secretary of Transportation has voiced this, and support at the local level has been increasing for several years.

Unfortunately (I seem to use that word a lot), I don't see an overall improvement for a while. The trend towards increasingly sedentary lifestyles will continue because the number of jobs that requires a college degree and the ability to sit in front of a computer for hours will continue to increase. The ever-growing selection of electronic entertainment options will keep people indoors as well. Our diets will continue to be unhealthy as long as our agricultural policy remains in the grip of agribusiness puppets - a.k.a. Midwestern senators, which will be the case for the foreseeable future. And the most important factor (IMHO), our car-centric built environment, will remain in place for decades.

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