News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

South leads in obesity rates

A recent nationwide study on obesity rates shows the southern U.S. still in the lead.

Aside from our country-fried diet of chicken and biscuits, our inactivity is a major factor in our collective girth. We've built our communities to accommodate car use, to the almost complete exclusion of enabling a walk or bike ride.

If we incorporate physical activity into our daily routines - commuting by bicycle, walking to and from the bus stop, spending weekends strolling greenways - we will make significant headway against the obesity epidemic. The best way to encourage walking and biking is to make it as safe and as convenient as driving, which means we need:

- an interconnected network of well-maintained bike lanes and greenways
- an interconnected network of well-maintained sidewalks and crosswalks
- a bus system that takes people where they want to go, when they need to go

While Athens-Clarke and UGA, especially, have made modest gains towards these goals, we are only half-way there. Many still feel unsafe riding a bicycle in Athens. Long stretches of foot worn paths evidence the need for more sidewalks.

As Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, notes, the obesity problem is "not going to be solved in the doctor's office but in the community, where we change norms."

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