‘The working escalator’
courtesy of ‘ianseanlivingston’
It’s no surprise that there’s a correlation between rates of people driving to work and higher rates of obesity, but GOOD has created a fun new graphic that shows it in an interesting way. This map of the US shows rates of walking, biking, and taking transit to work alongside obesity rates. Since DC is compared to more spread out states, we obviously come in first place in the walking/biking/transit commute rates, and we’re third lowest (behind super-active Colorado and Connecticut) in statewide obesity rates.
The typical caveat applies here: when DC is compared to states the results should be taken with a grain of salt. Virtually any dense city would beat out statewide averages in terms of rates of taking non-motorized transportation to work. And we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back too much– there’s still a lot of work to be done to reduce obesity in DC. While overall the District may be considered healthy and active, the obesity rates in Wards 7 and 8 are nearly double the District average (and much worse than the national average).
But still, next time you’re stuck walking up a broken Metro escalator, remind yourself that it’s keeping you fit!
‘Typical Beltway traffic’
courtesy of ‘brianmka’
This past week, Time Magazine ran an article on why southerners are so fat. The article was in response to a new report showing Mississippi as the state with the highest rate of obesity for the fifth year in a row. The top five heaviest states are all in the south: Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Lousiana, and South Carolina. The typical causes of obesity are all there: southerners tend to be poorer, so they have less money to buy nutritious food; southern food is greasy and fried; it’s too hot to exercise outdoors; the list goes on. But this article also included the fact that many southern towns lack access to public transportation, that many places lack sidewalks, and that there are few safe places to bike.
It’s refreshing to see a national publication tie the physical environment to obesity. Suburbs and more rural areas have typically been home to more overweight residents than central cities: by driving everywhere, you’re not getting the exercise you would be by walking to the bus stop, or biking down the block. Suburbs also have fewer destinations within walking distance: going to the grocery store or heading to the movies require car trips, rather than bike or walking trips. We’re lucky in the District that we have a great public transportation system, lots of sidewalks and crosswalks, and a growing system of bike lanes and paths– things that encourage us to lead more active lives. Because of that, we’re on average about 6 pounds lighter than our exurban counterparts.