Cycling the Answer to Obesity?

Posted by chdot on October 17, 2007

A significant report into (likely) causes of obesity is published today
as part of the UK Government’s Foresight programme. (Report and background papers.)

“Tackling obesity has striking similarities with tackling climate change. Both need whole societal change with cross governmental action and long term commitment. Many climate change goals would also help prevent obesity, such as measures to reduce traffic congestion, increase cycling or design sustainable communities.” (Extract from summary.)

The related BBC story is headlined “Obesity ‘not individuals’ fault'”.

“Obesity, the authors concluded, was an inevitable consequence of a society in which energy-dense, cheap foods, labour-saving devices, motorised transport and sedentary work were rife.”

“From planning our towns to encourage more physical activity to placing more pressure on mothers to breast feed – believed to slow down infant weight gain – the report highlighted a range of policy options without making any concrete recommendations.”

Which is perhaps a pity. Inevitably there is an emphasis on food and, particularly, the role of the food industry. In short; people eat too much, often the ‘wrong’ sorts of foods, for their lifestyles – which don’t involve enough exercise.

Anyone reading this site will ‘know’ that one real ‘answer’ is riding a bike – to work, school, shops etc., for leisure, pleasure, transport and sport. All the more reason for Edinburgh to make sure that there is Cycle Training for all P6 pupils, more encouragement for cycling as a normal way of getting around (like Copenhagen) and planning to replace the Velodrome.


11.01 Radio 4 News story just mentioned “walking and cycling”

11.20 CTC Press Release “Two generations of planners have designed the UK’s towns and cities around motorised transport, encouraging people into sedentary, car-dependant lifestyles. The report highlighted how encouraging people onto their bikes was an essential part of any strategy to tackle obesity – and that such measures would also help meet our climate change targets.

Campaigns and Policy Manager Roger Geffen said “The Foresight report has added its weight to the bloated library of evidence of the role of cycling in tackling the twin crises of climate change and obesity. It is no longer enough for the Department for Health to tell us all to munch apples while other Departments force us into sedentary, car-dominated lifestyles.”

“With the Department for Health and Department for Transport working out their spending plans for the next three years, it’s the perfect time to see a radical increase in funding for cycling.”

14.00 BBC Radio 4 News reports Gordon Brown saying ‘need to increase fitness; that’s why sport, in schools, is going up from two hours a week to 5 hours a week over the next few years’.

England only? Once again misses the point. There’s more to exercise than ‘sport’ (even if that’s allowed to include dance etc.). It’s more about ‘active lifestyles’ and ‘active travel’. Many young people dislike organised PE/sport so much that this is likely to be counterproductive – even ignoring issues such as resources (more PE teachers?) and ‘balanced’ curricula.

One Response to “Cycling the Answer to Obesity?”

  1. […] Cycling the Answer to Obesity? […]

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