Developers in the last half-century called it progress when they built homes and shopping malls far from city centers throughout the country, sounding the death knell for many downtowns. But now an alarmed cadre of public health experts say these expanded metropolitan areas have had a far more serious impact on the people who live there by creating vehicle-dependent environments that foster obesity, poor health, social isolation, excessive stress and depression.

As a result, these experts say, our “built environment” — where we live, work, play and shop — has become a leading cause of disability and death in the 21st century. Physical activity has been disappearing from the lives of young and old, and many communities are virtual “food deserts,” serviced only by convenience stores that stock nutrient-poor prepared foods and drinks.

According to Dr. Richard J. Jackson, professor and chairman of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, unless changes are made soon in the way many of our neighborhoods are constructed, people in the current generation (born since 1980) will be the first in America to live shorter lives than their parents do.

“We’ve become the victims of our own success,” Dr. Jackson said of the public health mission that cleared cities of congested slums. “By living far from where we work, we reduced crowding and improved the quality of our air and water, which drove down rates of infectious disease.” But as people have moved farther and farther from where they work, shop and socialize, the rates of chronic diseases have soared.

According to the article, instead of giving people a healthier environment in which to work, play and exercise…we are killing them with convenience. But, no one forces you to eat at Mickey D’s, or watch 6 hours of television a day. Again, nothing in here about people taking responsibility for their own health choices.



  1. Lynn says:

    I teach sociology so I’m really getting a kick out of this. Hunter-gatherer, pastoral/horticultural, agrarian, industrial, post-industrial, and then I always challenge my students: what will come next? I guess it’s suburbial/sitonasstrial.

    I grew up in the suburbs and I’m ok…

    • Skeptic: Post # ≥1 says:

      I’m OK, You’re OK

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and social critic says:

        Did you catch the sequel?: “I’m ok, you’re Not” I don’t think Paul Dyer wrote that, and maybe it was just a comedians joke I’m recalling. Both approaches have their value. Including: “You’re Ok, but its a challenge for me.”

        • Skeptic: Post # ≥1 says:

          Proud to say I didn’t read it… ok, maybe a review or two. I remember a lot of joke titles appeared when that book came out… not sure if any were actually published books though.

          …“You’re Ok, but its a challenge for me.”… funny stuff 😉

          • bobbo, words have meaning says:

            I spent 36 hours in an airport one time due to storms with nothing to do but read self help books from the gift shop. That and lots of coffee and Zag Nut bars if I remember correctly.

            Most of what is in the entire 200 book page is often captured in the 6 word title of the book.

            I’m Ok, Your Ok is one such book. The remaining titles escape me just now but the titles of the books were all worth the read.

            Sad we take so long to understand/decide who we choose to be. Then we have to work on accepting the truths of those around us. I’ve always found that the harder task.

  2. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and social critic says:

    Just another example of just about what every post/comment section in this forum raises: hoomans are not monolithic, there are pros and cons to all we do, and hoomans like change and variety. Moronic to spastically kneejerk to and fro between opposing models of anything when the truth is a mix of both and something else and then the opposite five years later.

    You see this “lack of consistency/fidelity” in every aspect of hooman life yet it always comes as a shock.

    Stoopid Hoomans. Don’t even know yourself. Think about it sometimes. Glass of wine, nice music. Find a list of aphorisms and think about them. Do so with a friend with different opinions from time to time. Do so with a stranger from time to time. Imagine………thinking.

  3. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and social critic says:

    What did Lynn say?………..there it is: “I grew up in the suburbs and I’m ok…” //// Ha, ha. Yeah. Glass of wine, music in the background. Imagine………think.

  4. Lynn says:

    Not much of a wine drinker but I do like thinking.

  5. orchidcup says:

    I work at a convenience store, and I am amazed at the crap people buy there to eat and drink.

    One day last week, a lady came in the store with four children that are GROSSLY obese. These kids ranged in age from 10 years down to 4 years old. The youngest was such a butterball she had difficulty walking.

    The kids made a beeline over to the ice cream. The mother bought each of these kids a double scoop of ice cream.

    Then there are the parents that buy 5-hour energy drinks or Red Bulls for their young kids along with 3 candy bars and a giant bag of chips.

    I can testify that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in a convenience store that is nutritional, especially for kids.

    I bring my lunch to work because there is nothing in the store that I would eat.

    A convenience store sells mostly beer and tobacco products, and sugar drinks and snacks comes in a close second place.

    • msbpodcast says:

      I can testify that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in a convenience store that is nutritional, especially for kids.

      Come now, come now… Surely you’re being a little harsh.

      Convenience stores also sell batteries, phone cards, dish soap, condoms and, if you’re lucky, beer.

      As for food, they carry some kind of orange squeeze cheese that glows in the dark and just glowers at you if you come near it… Brrrrr!!!!

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      Near me, the drug stores have mainly taken over for convenience stores. “We Accept SNAP Cards” decals are placed on the stores’ freezer doors. Certainly, the doors in front of the ice cream section.

      Question: Should “junk food” be able to be purchased with SNAP cards?

  6. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and social critic says:

    But Lynn–the urging is not to think. Its to: Imagine……..think. The wine is not the sacrament you disdain but rather a chemical aid to the imagination, one door of perception, to new rooms of thinking. Not exactly sitonasstrial. That will be the key to my own opening door on my next trip. What could that possibly mean? A non fermented stimulus to think in new ways?

    What does thinking one is “ok” mean? Is that the end goal? Can an end goal ever be reached in the suburbs? Maybe it/life shouldn’t always be a struggle, but what is ok?

    I might be ok with ok. Its definitional. I know I am never fine with OK after a glass of wine–maybe two? Too sitonasstrially?

    Ha, ha. I do crack myself up. Its like being drunk of life====and everythings ok.

  7. dusanmal says:

    Sop many comments and not one obvious conclusion yet: this is research by people with intent to interpret any results for their own ideology. Ideology that does not like suburbs (never mind rural areas). Ideology that does not like individuality of cars and personal homes. Ideology of collectivism.
    And in that ideology lies their fundamental error in result interpretation: raise in chronic diseases has NOTHING to do with urban setup. Same diseases are on rise in other well to do societies (ex. EU) where the concept of the suburb is way diminished. Majority of people say in Germany who suffer from identical rise in chronic diseases live in the tight, crowded cities. They use buses and walk. Even cycle. They use (ideologically correct) trains…. Yet – same diseases in similar proportion…
    So, it is not ideology and it is not urban setting. It is PERSONAL CHOICES emerging from affluent lifestyle.
    Now, ideology driven Progressives may interpret that as mandate to force us out of our affluent choices by reducing our standard of living for “collective good”. I say to these researchers and Progressives of the similar kind – stuff it, not your business. Personal choices and freedoms, no matter how unpalatable to your ideology are right. It is individual choice.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and social critic says:

      The point dismal is not a pretext for your delusional 1% philosophy, but rather: do you recognize what choices you are making when you choose from A vs B?>>>>that C, D, and E are also being made?

      Because I didn’t have kiddies, I chose my place to live as close to work as I could. I HATE commuting. Nice to be able to go home even at lunch time if desired and so forth. Hours of time saved. Not the best school districts, not the best neighbors===I didn’t care/laughed that my car heater never came to temp before I parked it at work.

      Pros and Cons to all we do. How many of us make a decision past the first Pro or Con we see?

      Lots of personal choices become unavailable as others are opened up to us as we experience the affluent life style. What is affluent about not being able to walk to work?

    • msbpodcast says:

      It is PERSONAL CHOICES emerging from affluent lifestyle.

      Personal choices? Nah, you end up living in some ticky-tacky bungalow, or McMansion, driving two or more cars desperately trying to fit in to the suburban lifestyle.

      In the early sixties, awards were given for whoever could cone up with yet another book trashing the fucking ‘burbs. They never quite did ’em justice though.

      Remember Peyton Place? Remember “Valley of the Dolls”? That was a disgusting little slice of life among the Harper Valley PTA troglodytes.

      Now that we’re effluent instead of affluent, meaning our savings have gone down the drain, I find living the the city so much more convenient, not to mention good for my soul.

      No more mind numbing commute from one sterile suburb to some sterile employment park, emphasis on park-ing, island-like in a sea of blacktop, devoid of life,
      no more suburban sameness that greeted me everywhere from coast to coast, from border to border, with lots of stops in between,
      no more keeping up with the acre grass mowing,
      no more cougars baiting me when I go out to shovel the driveway,
      no more monday washday blues,
      no more having to look at the neighbors pasty white butts or flappy tits,
      no more wondering what’s the proper etiquette for turning down my blinds, and the neighbor’s wife, daughter, gay son, crappy drugs, unpalatable liquor, disgusting food consumed while sitting in the altogether around the 25″ plastic above-ground pool, swimming in chlorine and ennui, trying not to slash ineffectually at my wrists with the plastic utensils while worrying if its too long since I shaved my balls.

      You can take your It is PERSONAL CHOICES emerging from affluent lifestyle and stick ’em where the sun don’t shine.

      • orchidcup says:

        I hope the catharsis was good for you.

        It is good to vent when the pressure is too much.

        • msbpodcast says:

          Sadly, its wasn’t even cathartic.

          I’m waxing satyric, like a bitter and twisted version of George Carlin. (My hair even looks like his did, before he bit the bullet.)

          Got to take of getting food stamps in the morning. You have to wait 30 days in Jersey before you see them.

          Its so convenient that people go mad from hunger long before 30 days have elapsed.*

          With any luck, my next meal is going to be the postman (the only thig that is going to wring is his neck,), and then the Guido guard at Rikers Island will sit my ass down for a square meal of plastic food served on a square plastic tray and eaten with plastic utensils, like … a spork.

          Okay, I’m not that badly off, yet, but I’ve got my eye on a overpass abutment in Virginia near Lynchburg, just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway

          In calling dibs on Bambi and Thumper as soon as the car drives away.

          * The order of time is:

          Without air, four minutes,
          without water, four days,
          without food, four weeks,
          without sex, forget it…

          • Lynn says:

            In NJ or any other state, the trick to speeding up your SNAP is to call the Department of Agriculture and complain. SNAP is a Dept. of Ag program even though they are almost always administered through the Human Services offices. That’s Dept. of Agriculture, not Dead on Arrival.

            I’m an LSW in NJ so I’m really getting a kick…

  8. Skeptic: Post # ≥1 says:

    Crime rates are double in the city centers as opposed to the suburbs. (US Central City and Suburban
    Crime Rates Ranked: 1999)

    If you are in a high crime area you’ll live longer.

  9. Lynn says:

    I just taught a class on scientific method so I’m getting a kick out of this. “The independent variable is the causal variable” – so what is the independent variable in this case?

    • Skeptic: Post # ≥1 says:

      I believe the independent variables tend to live in the city.

  10. NewFormatSux says:

    What BS. City life is where you are more likely to be far away from fruits and vegetables. Sure if you live in a suburb, you’re not going to be within one mile of a grocery store. But you will be able to get to one easily, and you’ll be paying much less than you wold in a city. There’s more convenience stores, because there are more gas stations. I don’t think anyone would buy fruits and vegetables there.

    • Skeptic: Post # ≥1 says:

      If you work at a gas station long enough, you’ll become a fruit, or possibly even a vegetable in the high crime areas.

  11. deowll says:

    One of the things I miss is a basic. Sidewalks: with them you can get out and about without a car. Without them you are in the street or trespassing.

    • orchidcup says:

      San Francisco is trying to pass a law that criminalizes sitting or lying on a sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

      Now that is micro-managing those city folks!

      • Angel H. Wong says:

        That is to keep the anonymous gay sex to a more family friendly schedule 🙂

  12. JimD, Boston, MA says:

    Suburbs promote the ONE THING THAT CORPORATIONS WANT – CONSUMPTION !!! Housing, Automobiles, Gasoline, Super Market Food, Mall clothing, Multi-Plex Movies !!! Consuming, Consuming, Consuming !!! The Business of America is Consuming – when it isn’t MAKING WAR ON SOME THIRD WORLD COUNTRY !!!

    • orchidcup says:

      If we don’t consume, Mitt Romney and his cronies won’t get rich.

      You are attacking The American Dream.

      • msbpodcast says:

        I’ve got an idea for getting consumption up to record levels.

        Every sector of the economy would benefit:
        • tourism, (they’re going to sell a lot of maps of DC,)
        • hotels and motels (and ditches and bridge abutments,)
        • restaurants, (well okay, McDonald’s not Citronelle,)
        • liquid refreshments (and hookers and blow,)
        • hospitals and health services,
        • funeral services,
        • car rentals,
        • taxis,
        • ammunition,
        • guns,
        • sights,
        • white Toyota trucks transformed into “tacticals” and so on…

        How ’bout we declare open season on politicians and other 1%ers?

        We could all buy .50 cal sniper rifles and bring them to Washington?

        No?

        Didn’t think so… Darn.

  13. sargasso_c says:

    The way gasoline prices are heading, the ‘burbs could look like a Mad Max movie in 10 years.

    • msbpodcast says:

      Between gas prices, unemployment, the ripoff mortgage and other banks and the state of disrepairs of the infrastructure in this country, I give it five years.

      The malls out in the ‘burbs will become like smaller versions of the Detroit train station.

      I have a wondrous vision of suburbs in this country: Vast wastelands of cracked and broken asphalt surrounded by dry scrub and weeds, dirty unkept roadways, neglected sewers, un-patrolled streets, McMansions fallen into dilapidated heaps of broken bricks and burnt plywood and 2x4s.

  14. Angel H. Wong says:

    It’s good to know they are spending tax money on First World problems for a change.

  15. msbpodcast says:

    2 words: Bobcat Goldthwait.

    ‘Nuff Said.

  16. Animby says:

    Are you all blind? The suburbs have taken up prime land the elites want back for their estates.

    The general population should all be living in (and paying taxes to) The City. Since they’ve failed to get the world population down to 500 million the next best thing is to corral us.

    They’ll be putting up 100 story apartment buildings right next door to FoxConn-type factories. Inside will be everything you need from cradle to grave. In fact, in each hallway, next to the trash and recycle chutes will be one mysteriously labeled “Soylent”.

    • msbpodcast says:

      Your thinking too small.

      The really rich are all gentlemen farmers.*

      They want to own places like the national parks, not some shitty suburbs.

      *) The USDA even subsidizes them to own all this productive land where they’re growing monsanto shit corn that is killing us plebes, including the 1%ers. Funny part is that the USDA and the FDA are colluding to pen all of the animals in feed lots while the 12,400 eat free-range animals.

  17. LibertyLover says:

    I can believe this because it happened to me. If the body isn’t worked, it degrades rapidly. Mine degraded and when I tried to do something as easy as water skiing (WTF was I thinking?), I pulled my spine so far out of kilter I ended up with a herniated disc in my neck. The muscles had become so soft they couldn’t stabilize it. Bad.

    Three cervical spine epidural steroid injections later, combined with five weeks of physical therapy, I’m back to 99%. I avoided surgery only because I’m a hard-head and took the physical therapy seriously. The spine doc was surprised at my level of recovery.

    Most things in the world do well when not stressed. The human body isn’t one of them. You have to work it to keep it functioning.

  18. Lynn says:

    This thread = epic salmagundi.

  19. Mad Macks says:

    Oh, don’t worry. There’s more than enough stress coming. And real soon, too.

    And in your heart of hearts, you know EXACTLY what I mean.

  20. Zombie says:

    LOL wait your telling me its post nucular age fallout…right? its called fujushima.

    the GOV did create this age. they should fix it not blame it on the people they set up.

    Of course like bobo said. you guys have this idea of thinking. but not actualy thinking. the word is doomed, same as it ever was.

    FYI: Ron L Hubbard, Alester Crawley and HP lovecraft are all cultist and are all knights Templar and wrote there mind control books together(O.T.O. Scientology you could even throw in LDS but then peoples heads might explode if they actually ever figured out the real truth…

  21. Hello McCullough,

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    Kind regards
    Tasha Smith
    Treatment for depression reviewer.

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