Rethinking how we live to stop the chronic diseases epidemic
November 10, 2012 Leave a comment
We talk a lot about using urban design to make cities more healthy for people. When we discuss this, it usually comes down to making it easier to walk or bike to destinations: but there is much more to it than that, as is discussed in this post from The Conversation. They describe how we see chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, and respiratory diseases, among others) in cities, both in the developed and developing world, because our cities are designed to make less-healthy decisions easier and healthier decisions more difficult. Industrialization has made our work easier, so we don’t burn as many calories, at the same time that our foods are becoming higher in calories, and we eat more of them. To turn this around, we need to make healthy decisions easier.
The healthy option in this post is Copenhagen, Denmark.Copenhagen is often noted for its easy bike transit, public transportation and green spaces. Part of the reason 40% of people in the city bike is because it is the most affordable option available, and because it is safe, and not limited to people in Lycra, like it is in so much of the US. In addition, local laws require regular access to healthy food, while restricting fast food options. The authors commend efforts like Mayor Bloomberg’s large soft drink ban as an effort to “Copenhagenize,” but point out that we have a long way to go to reach cities where the healthy option is the easiest option.