Diet and lack of exercise have always played a major part in obesity, but now it is thought that our surroundings are encouraging inactivity leading to weight gain. A leading international nutritional scientist said that obesity must be tackled in the same way as climate change and that we have to transform the environment that is making us fat.
The urban environment in Oslo, Norway discourages car use and encourages walking. In the Netherlands 60% of all journeys made by people aged over 60 are by bike, 10.4% of men and 10.1% of women aged 20-60 are obese. In England, 24.9% of males and 25.2% of women over 16 are obese.*
The worst contributors to obesity were transport systems that make it easier to drive than to walk, cycle or take public transport. Also the rise of desk-bound office work and sedentary leisure activities such as watching television, surfing the internet and playing computer games have not helped matters.
Neville Rigby, Director of Policy and Public Affairs from IOTF said:
"We have been delighted with the positive reaction from architects and urban planners around the world. The message that we need to 'design-in' the environment that will sustain healthy living certainly seems to resonate. Our next step is to hold a major international think tank in conjunction with McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in the autumn where we will engage some of the top global thinkers in this area to develop new strategies to increase physical activity."
* Sources: IOTF, NHS information centre
Main image: A picture that tells a story - people taking the escalator up to a fitness centre.