We have all heard the stats: Obesity is on the rise. Children are developing artery disease by the time they learn how to drive. One of every three Canadians will develop some form of obesity-related health disease.
But what are we doing about it? What are you doing about it?
Most people living within urban centres are living an obesogenic environments and they might not even realize it. Our environments are making us fat. We live in urban centres where access to fresh, local vegetables is limited and fast-food abundant. Walking down the street, it’s not unusual to see 10 fast-food restaurants before stumbling across a ‘green’ restaurant like The Table or SimplyRaw Express (both establishments happen to be withing 10 minutes of my office!).
When you live a fast-paced lifestyle, typical of us urban-dwellers, what to eat for lunch is usually the last thing on our minds in the morning. So we head off to start our days, and when the hunger-pangs begin, we are at the mercy of our instinctual appetites. These innate appetites that once helped our ancestors survive now drive us to reach for high fat, high carbohydrate foods. And if you work in an obesogenic environment, you are most likely going to find these types of foods within a 10 minute walk of your office.
Obesogenic environments also provide many opportunities to be sedentary. Isn’t it easier to get into your car and drive to the big-boxed stores to get all of your household needs met? If your job relies on technology, good luck with being active. Computers and technology are not only handy but extremely addictive. Once our eyes feast on the ever-changing colours and hypnotic messages online, we can literally become statues for hours on end.
Our bodies were built to move. When we rely on the click of our mouse or the engine in our cars to take us to where we want to go, we are moving towards weaker bodies, heavier bodies and therefore, more health issues.
I wrote this blog to help some of you wake up to your current lifestyle and to look around and see how you might be the outcome of your obesogenic environment. But we can not wait until our environment changes – we need to be the change that happens to our environments.
Change in our environment usually begins with the people living there. If you are wanting more healthy alternatives in the choices of restaurants, start going to healthy restaurants. If you want to show you are interested in having green space, start using the existent green space. If you want to start walking and biking to stores, start doing just that and supporting your local businesses. With each decision you make to choose healthier foods and activities, your environment will change with you. New businesses will open that support healthy living. Bike lanes may be added to your route to work. Community vegetable gardens will spring up as more people show interest in local, fresh vegetables.
It starts with us!
“Be the change you want to see in the world” ~ Mahatma Gandhi