Felix Salmon smackdown watch

By Felix Salmon
September 29, 2009
Matthew DeBord takes aim and fires:

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Matthew DeBord takes aim and fires:

Salmon also makes it sound as if the average American eats primarily at off-the-freeway fast-food joints in between trips to the supermarket to fill their car with huge amounts of groceries. They nourish themselves by “absent-mindedly shovelling down an unknown quantity of something random while watching the TV.”…

Oy! Talk about an east-of-the-Hudson River, blinkered mindset. There are plenty of cities in the U.S.—and the rest of the world—where the urban concentration isn’t that dense, people own cars…and remain thin while eating both restaurant cuisine and keeping the pantry stocked, preparing delicious, unfattening meals at home. That’s right, they have restaurants! And they don’t eat their ice cream by the gallon while watching Survivor! Some of them even use their cars to transport their bikes to the (beach, mountains) to ride them for…miles and miles! Or they drive someplace rugged and scenic to take a hike. Or they take frequent walks while also owning a car!

No argument at all, DeBord is right. An active lifestyle on the outskirts of somewhere like Boulder or Portland or San Diego trumps a relatively sedentary life of pork-and-butter-heavy NYC expense-account dinners any day.

On the other hand, if you’re an overweight suburbanite there’s a good chance that you don’t live an active lifestyle. And for the large number of people without the “personal discipline” that DeBord writes about, ceteris paribus they’re likely to be thinner if they live in an urban center. Although buying a bike and heading for the local foothills on a regular basis would be cheaper, more convenient, and more effective.

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