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Sprawling to Obesity: Are the Burbs Bad for Your Health?

Original post made by Earl, Downtown, on Jul 29, 2009

This May, the Committee on Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics confirmed that the design of U.S. communities (i.e. car-dependent suburbia) negatively affects the health of children (i.e. makes them obese). James Howard Kunstler explores the relationship between suburban sprawl and the declining health of Americans. He talks about it in this interesting podcast. Check it out:

Web Link

Comments (16)

Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 29, 2009 at 10:55 am

Wow! And I always thought it was elevators and escalators in the cities which were the primary contributors to obesity.

Guess I was wroooong...


Posted by Dave
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm

This is why Pleasanton needs to become a more walkable community.

Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Obesity in the US all about poor diet...malnutrition. If you're obese, you are probably malnourished.

Posted by Loon's Solution
a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jul 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

Some of the solutions for the obesity problem under the left-wing loons medical plan are liposuction for teenagers (whether they wnt it or not), and similar to their solution for the elderly ill, instructions on how to starve yourself to death, and if that doesn't work, they will give you a pill you can administer to yourself to shut out your lights. Heil, Obama.

Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Jul 30, 2009 at 10:36 am

SteveP is a registered user.

As you've no doubt heard many times, weight gain can be caused by a gland problem----most likelt the gland called 'your mouth'.
The solution: Stop shoveling so much food into your mouth.
Other possible solutions include getting some exercise, which amazingly, can be accomplished even if you have to commute to your job. Maybe even changing to a more balanced diet.

To blame obesity on the 'burb's is ludicris--are you saying there are no obese people in the big city? Why vilify people that choose not to live in congested, urban sqaulor?

Posted by Alice R.
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Loon's Solution and SteveP,

I wonder how many of you actually listened to the podcast before engaging in your kneejerk rants. Maybe if it was a Rush Limbaugh podcast, you guys would have listened. Of course, SteveP thinks anything outside of his suburban bubble is evil. Oh the horrors of urban living!!

How many of you can honestly say you go about your daily business without depending on an automobile? Can most of you walk to the store to do your daily errands? Many of you many find this hard to believe, but prior to WWII towns (large or small) were built on walkable, classic street grids. Back then, we didn’t have an obesity epidemic because people actually walked around and engaged in physical activity in their daily lives. It wasn’t because they had a low fat/carb diets. If anything, it was quite the contrary.

Unless you lived in the country, homes in most communities were traditionally built a short distance from stores and other necessities (see downtown Pleasanton). There was also a clear distinction between “country” and “city”, instead of today’s suburban mishmash. This current era of incoherent suburban cul-de-sacs and strip malls came about almost entirely after WWII, and may find itself in the dust bin of history as auto travel because increasingly unsustainable. In other words, suburban sprawl as we know it is fairly recent trend (last 50 years) and emerged during a unique era of mass consumption and cheap oil. Suburban sprawl is a classic example of Post-war ego thinking it knew better than thousands of years proven urban design principles (i.e. the classic street grid).

Posted by Sandler
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Something strange happened to American suburbia as it went through its phases of development. It started out as country living, the sovereign antidote to the industrial city. Then it became a rigorously domesticated variant of country living. Then, after World War Two it mutated into something insidiously different: a cartoon of country living in a cartoon of the country (in a cartoon of a country house). This sad fact explains why the chronic disappointment of suburbia inspires ridicule even among those who live in it. It hasn’t delivered very well on its promises for a long time now. In its florid, climactic incarnation today – the McMansion precincts of Dallas, Atlanta, or Northern Virginia – it presents the worst elements of urban and rural life in the same package, with few of the benefits of either. The megaburbs have all the congestion of a city and none of the human contact. They have all of the isolation of the country, but no real connection to nature.

Posted by Monica
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Because cul-de-sacs are cut off from other streets, residents who live on them must use their car to get anywhere. In typical large sprawl developments, hundreds of cul-de-sacs are connected like branches to the main trunk of access roads that lead out onto highways.

New Urbanism, which stresses walking and front porches, rather than garages and SUV’s, is trying to replace the cul-de-sac with its predecessor, the grid street. Just like the old small towns where the corner store was just down the road from ma’s house.

Leading the change, of course, are developers, who see money-making opportunities in mixed use projects that combine residential, office and retail uses. These are best built in grid arrangements. But safety advocates also say that cul-de-sacs are actually unsafer than open roads because cars back out of driveways, increasing the risk that children could be run over.

California cul-de-sacs have always struck me as uniquely ugly. The homes on these streets are built up to the property line, and frequently lack trees or sidewalks. They are built with huge garages and the styles of each house are rarely harmonious with their neighbors.

Posted by Benjamin
a resident of Gatewood
on Jul 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Cholo, I think this is the 1st time I've agreed with you.

Posted by Loon's Solution
a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jul 30, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Alice R.,

I take it by your remarks that FORCING obese teenagers to have liposuction, or the elderly ill to starve themselves to death or to take a death pill is OK with you????

People need to understand that left-wing loons want to take your freedom away so the priviledged ruling class can make your decisions for you. These loons want to tell you what you can and cannot eat, what transportation you can or cannot use, where you can or cannot live, dictate to your community how many people can live there and what incomes they can or cannot have, what doctor you can or cannot use, etc. etc. etc. And, they want to tax you until they make the decisions on how your money is spent rather than you making those decisions.

Now the Obama administration is talking about foot-soldiers to ensure their measures are being implemented. Sounds quite similar to Hitler's Jugend and Sturmabteilung (SA)to me. I suppose if we don't sell our car and walk to work, or if we ever eat a Big Mac instead of a tofu and seaweed prepared by a certified minority business, the foot-soldiers will be there to give us a bar of soap and herd us to the showers.

Posted by The Modesto Kid
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I have a great idea for all those that want to do a lifestyle transformation to get your girlish or boyish figure back. Move out of Pleasanton and go get a job pulling weeds; picking potatoes, tomatoes, or cotton; thinning or cutting lettuce; bucking hay; or digging ditches and manually irrigating on a farm in the Central Valley. Just like they did it before 1960. That will trim you right up! And, it helps stem the illegal alien invasion.

Posted by Grace
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 30, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Loon's Solution: I would be very interested if you could quote the sections of the proposed Health Care reform being considered that describe the future prospect of forcing "obese teenagers to have liposuction, or the elderly ill to starve themselves to death or to take a death pill".

Please. I think it would be beneficial for us to see this.

Posted by OMG
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm

OMG - I am in shock. I feel all icky inside to say exactly the same thing as Benjamin...and that is...

Cholo, I agree with you.

Like swallowing a bitter pill to say that...eeeew

Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 31, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Benji &'ve just made my day, my week, my year, my decade...

Notice how the posters avoid discussing diet & nutrition basics.

You don't need a lifestyle transformation to get your girlish & boyish figures back. Increase intake of veggies daily, fish/chicken, cut down on red meat and away with all the garbage that you stuff your face other words, no more yum yum when you pass a donut shop.


the solution is way toooooooooo simple so it might not work...

Posted by Michael Leonard
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Michael Leonard is a registered user.

My Pleasanton neighborhood is quite walkable, 63 out of 100. I walk to the corner market, restaurants, the library and bank and many places. I can even walk to the ACE train and ride it to work in North San Jose. By the way Pleasanton isn't the Suburbs. That term means a bedroom community that is adjacent to a city. Pleasanton is it's own city.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Apr 25, 2017 at 10:34 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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