Debate 30 - Fat Cities

Monday, October 30th, 2006 | Debates

Can the design of the built environment help the obesity crisis?

It is difficult to open a newspaper without finding an article about the obesity crisis, a crisis arising from a combination of food industry marketing/chemistry and changes of life-style, fed by deep-seated physiological drivers.

Unhealthy cities, unhealthy people

Unhealthy cities, unhealthy people

The current cost to the NHS and businesses are huge and it is said that life expectancy in the USA has already dropped by 10 or more years. Not surprisingly Government Departments are urgently seeking solutions while the Supermarkets reposition themselves competitively. Typically, on 11th September the Guardian carried an article in the Financial section headlined ‘Sainsbury’s backs a drive over childhood obesity.’

While in many cities and in many countries the decline in the quality of the design of the built environment and its maintenance has coincided with the rise in obesity and while much of CABE’s energies are spent on promoting a better built environment and better public space, the question we wish to explore with you is to what extent can the built environment help solve the obesity crisis; or is it only of marginal significance?

This debate was chaired by Mark Whitby, co-founder of the multi-disciplinary engineering practice whitbybird and former President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The outcome of this debate fed into a joint Foresight/VCABE workshop to held on 30th November 2006 as part of the DTI’s Foresight Tackling Obesities: Future Choices Project

Speaker 1

Christine Hancock, European Director of Oxford Health Alliance, one of whose workstreams focuses on the way ‘Designers, architects and urban planners can assist in creating an environment in which healthy choices are the easy choices.’

Speaker 2

Nick Cavill, Director of health promotion consultants Cavill Associates and a research associate of the National Heart Foundation

Speaker 3

Tim Chapman, Director of HUDU, the NHS London Healthy Urban Development Unit in association with the LDA

Notes from the debate

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