Your city is making you Obese
Britain’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has said that policy makers are partly to blame for obesity by creating ‘obesogenic environments’ that encourage people to unhealthy lifestyles.
An obesogenic environment is usually an urban setting that encourages people to eat unhealthily and not exercise, said Nice. The institute’s Centre for Public Health Director Mike Kelly described some characteristics of obesogenic environments:
- they have buildings that prominently show lifts and escalators while hide staircases
- they encourage cars over walking
- they have public places dominated by shops that sell calorie-dense foods like pastries, sodas, burgers and fried chicken
Kelly said that one research proved a direct link between number of takeaways in an area and obesity. Leeds Metropolitan University Professor of exercise and obesity Paul Gately added that food has a higher impact on obesity than exercise.
However, the number of food outlets in an area is a matter that can only be controlled by policy makers. Kelly predicted that, as in the case of restricting smoking, restricting obesogenic environments can take a long time in developed countries.
But policy makers who want to clamp down on obesity can take cue from Birmingham. Officials have tightened the application of new fast food outlets since 2012 after an alarming report that said 64% of residents are overweight or obese.