The Null Device

Researchers at the U.S. Center for Disease Control have determined the primary cause of the U.S.'s skyrocketing rates of obesity. It's not calorie consumption (which has not increased as rapidly) or fat content in the diet (which has declined over the past 20 years); it's urban sprawl and automobile dependence. Modern American suburbs (and their Australian equivalents; have a look at Glen Waverley or Rowville sometime) are modelled around the automobile, with no high-street shops and often no footpaths; hence, those who live there have to drive to go anywhere, with exercise being a special activity strictly for the fitness enthusiasts with gym memberships.

Few suburbs now have footpaths, so pedestrians are forced on to the road. Police and private security patrols view with suspicion anyone on a suburban estate without a car: either they have run out of petrol and are in distress, or they are poor and up to no good.
An investigation into walking habits in Seattle found a direct correlation between physical activity and the year a house was built. Residents in streets built before 1947 walked or cycled at least three times every two days. Those in more modern houses used cars almost exclusively.

Which makes me feel a bit better for being one of the povo scum who rely on walking and public transport. Though one thing I have noticed is that, when I had a car, I read fewer books than when I did not (as my commute was not usable as reading time). I wonder whether a correlation can be drawn between car dependence and ignorance or mental atrophy...

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