According to research at the University of Illinois summarized in The Nation’s Health, the more you drive the more likely you are to be overweight. That blunt fact should be obvious to all. Unfortunately, those with an agenda that promote the increased use of motor vehicles might disagree. That is one reason I dropped my AAA membership after 30+ years.
“…Americans’ expanding waistlines are linked to increased automobile usage, a new study from the University of Illinois presents a compelling argument for driving less and walking or cycling more. Published online in May in the journal Transport Policy, the study points to lower rates of automobile use in regions of the United States that exhibit lower levels of obesity.”
“You can think of obesity as an energy imbalance,” said lead study author Sheldon Jacobson, a professor of computer science and the director of the simulation and optimization laboratory at the University of Illinois. “People consume food, which is a form of energy, and then they expend it in their activities. But if you look over the last 60-plus years, the automobile has become our primary mode of transportation — so much so, in fact, we have literally designed our way of life around it. It is that energy imbalance that ultimately may lead to obesity.”
A fascinating factoid from this study shows that the simple step of reducing driving by just one mile per day would reduce the number of obese Americans by five million within six years.
“If every licensed driver reduced their travel by one mile per day, in six years the adult obesity rate would be 2.16 percent lower,” Jacobson said. “In other words, almost 5 million fewer adults would be classified as obese based on the 2007 adult population.”
A fact such as that clearly demonstrates the importance of accelerating improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure throughout the country, not blindly cutting the already meager funding as the oil and car lobbies would prefer Congress to do.
To me, this whole topic reminds me of the disturbing images from Wall-E where the human race had degenerated into nothing more than a bunch of slothful couch potatoes. Could Pixar’s science-fiction animation be an accurate predictor of our future? Let’s hope not – but we must get off our collective butts to do so.