Looking Out, Looking Up

When it comes to health outcomes related to nutrition and physical activity, I recognize that I harbor what may be a deep-seated cultural bias which can be summarized in three words: sole personal responsibility. After all, adults are ultimately responsible for what they put into their mouths. Adults are responsible for choosing to move or choosing to lay on the couch “binge-watching” serialized entertainment. On the surface it appears obvious that the shape we’re in is a product of our own volition.

But.

Do we assign illness responsibility to people who are affected by consuming contaminated drinking water discharged from petrochemical companies? How about blaming people for having asthma in densely populated urban areas?

Neglecting the influence of the external environment on our health blinds us to the reality that we are creatures of both nature and nurture. These two forces are in constant dynamic interplay, continuously influencing one another and all of us. If you are interested in exploring the emerging scientific exploration of the obesigenic environment in which we are immersed, check out this 2011 Obesity Review article. If you are inspired to collaborate with others in bucking the system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a web page which can point you to action plans for developing physically active communities.

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