According to the U.S. Surgeon General, two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese. In the past few decades obesity rates have tripled among children – at a time when walking and biking to school levels have fallen dramatically – and doubled among adults. An obese teenager has more than a 70 percent greater risk of becoming an obese adult. This has major consequences on health. Obesity contributes to about 112,000 preventable deaths every year.
In a call to action to reverse this trend, the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, released The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation, 2010. In her opening letter she makes the connection between the way we build our communities and fitness:
As a nation, we must create neighborhood communities that are focused on healthy nutrition and regular physical activity, where the healthiest choices are accessible for all citizens. Children should be having fun and playing in environments that provide parks, recreational facilities, community centers, and walking and bike paths.
The report includes this line:
Similarly, the car-dependent design of our communities has made it much harder for our children to walk to school—and much harder for us to shop and do other errands entirely on foot or by bicycle.
- Build or enhance infrastructures to support more walking and bicycling.
- Support locating schools within easy walking distance of residential areas.
Update: Also see this New York Times article on the health risks of pre-diabetes.
League Policy Director
Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.