Episode 57: What causes obesity in America?

Obesity in America vs. Europe

Have you ever wondered why the Americans are more obese than the Europeans?

I recently came across this study that investigated the relationship between active transportation (i.e., walking, cycling, public transit) and obesity in different countries.

The study confirmed what I expected:

The countries with higher active transportation rates had lower obesity percentages!

Most american cities have such a low density and are so spread out that by default people need to take a car to do anything; go to work, to the post office, to school, to their friends house. Contrary, in Europe people are much less car dependent as everything is closer. People can walk to their job, or they can walk to the bus stop, and then go to work. They can bike to their friends’ house. They walk to school.

Thus, just because the Europeans live in cities with higher densities where everything is so much closer, they get to walk 2.5 times more than the Americans who are so car dependent.

Notice the difference: It’s not that the Europeans are more motivated to exercise or to walk more; it’s just that the city they live in helps them behave in such a way.

Think that this kind of exercise won’t make a big difference?

Well, here are some numbers:

Walking for 30 min every day while eating the same will lead an average person to:

  • Lose 14 lbs in 1 year,
  • Lose another 14 pounds in the 2nd year,
  • Lose another 14 pounds in the 3d year, etc…

In 30 years that will be a total of 420 pounds !!!

Without any extra exercise, and just by living in Europe, Europeans get to be leaner than the Americans.

Think that the city you live in does not affect your health? Think again! 🙂

Want to check if where you live helps your health or not? Check www.walkscore.com.

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  1. Hey Maria,
    Very interesting this video especially why I finally found an advantage of using the subway every day! I have never thought of that.
    Thank you for sharing the knowledge 🙂