Will An "Anti-Obesity" Building Make Residents Healthier?

The city of New York has tried a lot of approaches to reducing obesity, from requiring restaurants to post calorie counts to banning trans fats. Now the city's announcing an anti-obesity building that's supposed to help its residents stay fit. Will it work?

According to NBC New York, the Bronx building called "The Melody" will open this summer. It features indoor and outdoor fitness areas, as well as a playground for kids and a special slow-moving elevator to encourage people to take the stairs. Signs in the building will also exhort residents to exercise.

Lack of places to exercise is a big problem for city-dwellers, especially those who can't afford a gym membership. And kids who might not otherwise have a back yard will no doubt benefit from a fun and safe place to play. Whether the signs will have any effect is more questionable — posted calorie counts, a similar initiative, don't seem to change people's behavior. It's also not clear whether The Melody's many amenities will actually help its residents lose weight. At the very least, though, they'll increase opportunities to exercise, which is arguably more important than body size anyway.

However, what happens at home is only part of the story. One recent study suggests that the increasingly sedentary nature of our jobs could be contributing to obesity. And then there's the time it takes to get to these jobs, and the resultant lack of time left over for cooking healthy meals, exercising, and active play with kids. Making housing more exercise-friendly is a step in the right direction, but it will take more than that to change the American economy's crappy relationship to its workers' health.

"Anti-Obesity" Housing Unveiled In Bronx [NBC New York]
A Bronx Co-op Promotes Healthy Lifestyles [WFUV]
Workers More Obese, Burning Fewer Calories Than Ever Before [USA Today]

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