A study published earlier this month in the Journal of Transport and Health features some data that you might find disturbing if you enjoy many of the trappings of suburbia.
According to two engineers from the University of Connecticut and Colorado University, obesity -- and related conditions like diabetes and coronary diseases -- occur with significantly greater frequency in areas with broad, multi-laned streets, long distances between intersections and high numbers of big box stores. Sound familiar?
The study found that denser street networks in compact neighborhoods -- i.e. those without acres of big box stores and parking lots -- encourage walking and biking and make for a healthier, thinner population. Dallas' urban planning sophisticates would like you to believe that the study's findings support the notion of keeping neighborhoods pedestrian-friendly and adding protected bike lanes to people keep moving. While it's true no one in their right mind is walking to their neighborhood Sam's Club, focusing on transportation ignores more sinister links between big box stores and fat-assedness (technical term). Problems like:
- Holy shit! Fifty-five candy bars for nine bucks!
- Getting trapped in IKEA's maze for days, being forced to subsist solely on Swedish meatballs.
- The child-like enjoyment that can only come from cruising Wal-mart aisles in an electric scooter.
- Costco's delicious $1.50 hot dog combo.
- You need more space on your body for this gallon vat of massage oil.
- It's much safer to stay in your car and circle until you find a spot within 20 feet of of the store's door than it is to navigate on foot through the herds of SUVs roaming the back of the lot.
Clearly these places are a menace. There are 20 Wal-marts within 13 miles of downtown. We're doomed.