According to 2016 data, there are more than 1.9 billion overweight people in the world. Fat deposits in the human body have a detrimental effect on the whole body, especially the heart and other vital organs. Most obese people, as sudden as it sounds, live in New Zealand. This is a big problem because the effects of obesity are responsible for about 5 percent of all deaths each year. As a rule, it is believed that people themselves are to blame for gaining weight – they say that they eat junk food and move little. But what if the order of the cities is more responsible for the obesity of the people? The modern settlements are arranged in such a way that it is very difficult or impossible to reach some places on foot or by bike, while at every turn there are restaurants with unhealthy fast food. New Zealand scientists drew attention to this and shared their observations.
The invisible cause of obesity in humans
Obesity suddenly became a serious problem after 1980. Scientists believe that in such a short time, genetic or biological factors could not have become the main cause of weight gain. Instead, increasing mass may be a response to changes in the environment. After all, it was in the second half of the 20th century that people had access to high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods. In addition, the right places could be reached with the help of taxis and other means of transport. People started eating junk food and moving a lot less.
Of course, you can avoid gaining extra weight by taking control of your diet and engaging in sports. But let’s face it, most people do not have the willpower to take care of their own health. But why will the city authorities not take care of people’s health? According to scientists from New Zealand, this is more than possible. To do this, just look at the layout of the roads with more attention to detail.
How do cities harm health?
To show the weaknesses of the layout of modern cities, scientists have created the Healthy Location Index (HLI). This system indicates five types of points on the map, indicating objects that prevent people from gaining good health. We are talking about fast food shops, package stores, mini markets, alcohol shops and computer clubs. The system also indicates on the map areas that have a positive effect on people’s health: green spaces, parks, fitness equipment, greengrocers and supermarkets with healthy food.
The system operated in three major urban areas in New Zealand:
- Wellington turned out to be a place with a large number of points with a positive impact on human health.
- Auckland emerged as a city with an equal number of “harmful” and “useful” institutions.
- Christchurch has become a city with plenty of fast food and other institutions that do not promote a healthy lifestyle.
The system created showed that in New Zealand there is a phenomenon known as “environmental injustice”. This means that in cities with poor economic growth, people are much less likely to find health than in affluent settlements. It is believed that the abundance of restaurants and the lack of gyms with parks for walking can cause locals to develop type II diabetes, depression and other serious illnesses.
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How to equip cities?
The developers want to add even more features to the system, but it is not known exactly what these features are. However, the demonstration of her work really makes you think about how much the layout of cities affects people’s habits and health. Designers of new housing complexes should pay attention to this scientific work and make sure that parks, fitness equipment and health food stores are in the eyes of every resident. It would also be good to create more bike lanes so that people are encouraged to leave public transport and get to the right places on their own.
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To be healthy, people really need to pay attention to their diet. Restaurants are not considered in vain dangerous items, because they sell fast food, carbonated drinks and other “goodies” that can cause deadly diseases.