Monday, June 13, 2005

The suburbs may be hazardous to your health

The evidence continues to mount that high-density, walkable communities are healthier than the sprawling suburbs, via U.S. News and World Report:

Since 1960, the number of people commuting to work out of the county they live in jumped by 200 percent. Residential "sprawl" has meant a 250 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled. The average driver spends 443 hours yearly behind the wheel, the equivalent of 11 workweeks.

Driving displaces other activities, like exercise. "Being in a car doesn't do anything for you in terms of being thin," says Lawrence Frank of the University of British Columbia. "For every additional hour people spend in the car, there's a 6 percent increase in the likelihood of being obese."

Increased auto traffic is also a key source of ground-level ozone. Asthma rates among children, who are believed to be particularly sensitive to ozone, more than doubled between 1980 and 1995.


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