Highlights of Obesity and the Built Environment: Improving Public Health Through Community Design

Kristin Richardson


August 24, 2004

In This Article


A few weeks after I attended this conference, I went to Orlando, Florida, for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 64th Scientific Sessions. My hotel was only a half mile (as the crow flies, not as the sidewalk meanders) from the convention center, but the walk was frustrating and dangerous. There were few pedestrian crossings on the fast-moving 4-lane road, so jaywalking sprints were mandatory. And, as I discovered on my way to a 5 AM breakfast session, the automatic sprinkler system drenched not only the strip of lawn between sidewalk and road, but also the sidewalk itself. Of course the ADA provided jitneys between hotels and conference locales, and after a frustrating few days I started to use them. But I kept thinking back to the Obesity and the Build Environment conference. The pedestrian-hostile, activity-discouraging, fast food-intensive built environment surrounding the Orlando Convention Center was a living compendium of the bad design discussed at the conference. Perhaps organizations such as the ADA and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, which certainly have a vested interest in the fight against obesity, could do their part by encouraging the conference venues they support to create friendlier built environments. It's a place to start.


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