Long commutes increase obesity. They may also reduce economic opportunity


I am biased.  Born and raised in NYC, lived in Chicago most of my life.

We’ve previously noted that people with long commutes are more likely to be obese (sedentary + stress).  Folks who take public transport lose weight – this happened to me recently when I didn’t drive for a month.  When I was heavy, I avoided public transport, because I didn’t like climbing stairs, walking, sweating – but now, I seek it out.

Now, new economic research shows that the more spread out the metropolitan area, the less likely are poor children to improve upon their parents’ incomes when they themselves become older.

 in Atlanta, the most common lament seems to be precisely that concentrated poverty, extensive traffic and a weak public-transit system make it difficult to get to the job opportunities. “When poor communities are segregated,” said Cindia Cameron, an organizer for 9 to 5, a women’s rights group, “everything about life is harder.”

I appreciated the opportunities as a kid to ride the NYC subways and be exposed to museums, concerts, plays, educational resources.  Of course, a lot of that was due to the influence of my parents.

These things can’t be changed over night.  But I believe that suburban sprawl and long daily driving trips have contributed to the increases in obesity in our society.


Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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