... is a popular debate
.( Collapse )
Many of the solutions are actually straightforward. We've simply built a society that is terrible for humans, and we'd need to rip out most of it and replace it with healthier things.
* People used to grow their own food. Now most don't. They should, because gardening is exercise and produces healthy food. While most people don't want to be subsistence farmers, at least try for a garden.
* The commercial foodstream is downright unhealthy. Some big improvements could be made by dropping subsidies on unhealthy foods like sugar, and adding them for healthy foods like spinach. Use zoning to move the least healthy restaurants toward the fringes of town, and the healthier ones toward the busier areas; you can still have your junk food, you'll just have to go out of the way for it. Ban companies from using addiction science to create food that people can't stop eating. Flip the labeling requirements so that things like organic food don't need a special label, but foods that may contain toxic residues need warning labels; that will help reduce the cost of healthy food.
* Jobs used to be a lot more active. Now most are sedentary. Automation is greatly increasing this trend. That just makes matters worse. We need to have more physical jobs again.
* People used to have more time for physical activities. Now they scrabble just to get by. 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what we will! Nobody can exercise if they spend all their time working or sleeping. Throw in a living wage while you're at it, or you won't get the workload down.
* Dancing used to be a communal activity. Now it is something most people watch on television, if at all. The same is true for sports and most other physical activities. It would help if people just went back to including these in their social plans, and unlike many of these ideas, it's something anyone can do.
* Many other physical activities have been either banned outright, discouraged, or otherwise put out of reach. You want people to move? Add bike lanes and sidewalks and mixed-use paths. Make big buildings like malls and office complexes include bike garages, cleaning and repair stations, and locker rooms. Strike down laws against biking, skateboarding, rollerskating, freerunning, and other forms of human-powered locomotion.
* Children used to be either working, or free to roam. Now they are imprisoned in their own homes most of the time they are not imprisoned in school. If parents disagree, their children can be taken away and imprisoned by someone else. Free the children! You can't trap them indoors for 18 years and then bitch because they're fat. Just letting them walk or bike to school would give them more exercise, better health, and less fidgeting.
* High school used to teach home economics with a variety of practical skills including nutrition and cooking. Put that back, and encourage boys as well as girls to take the class. You can attract the boys by including sports nutrition as well as the historic emphasis on feeding children.
* College students are routinely banned from cooking their own food, forced to live in dorms where they either eat industrial slop in the cafeteria or packaged snacks in their rooms. Either put a kitchenette in every room or a common kitchen on every floor, and let students live outside dorms if they wish. The habits they form in the first years of adulthood will stick, and right now, most of those are bad.
* People used to live in rural areas with lots of room to move. Now most live in cities that are cramped, dirty, and often dangerous. Gym memberships are too expensive for many people, but it helps if businesses and apartment buildings have their own for folks to use free. We need a lot more parks, and they need equipment that encourages everyone to move, not just kids. Climbing structures, adventure paths, skateable sculptures, exercise equipment, it's all good.
* Resist the temptation to make everything faster and easier. Grocery shopping in person takes an average of an hour, most of that spent walking. If people switch to shopping online or even just ordering things to pick up at the curb, there goes one of the last great opportunities for natural exercise.
These are changes that modern society does not wish to make, and so people will likely get fatter and unhealthier.
(There are other possible causes, like pollution and antibiotics, but fixing those problems is not straightforward at all.)