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Jul 16
Long-term U.S. gasoline prices, 1990-2007 (adj...Image via Wikipedia

Will the high gas prices increase the number of people walking and biking to get groceries and work and lead to a turn around in the obesity rate in developed countries?

I previously wrote about: diabetes, obesity and gasoline keep on rising and now Wired has a piece on their site, “Rising gas prices could cure obesity.”

The article talks to Charles Courtemanche (an economics professor) whose Phd thesis, “A Silver Lining? The Connection Between Gasoline Prices and Obesity,” suggests that for every $ 1 dollar increase in gas prices could reduce obesity by 10% (over a 7 year period), save 16,000 lives, and 17 billion each year in health costs (though this is controversial - see this article). What, a Phd thesis that has real world meaning/application?

Several friends and I have talked about this very subject matter over a bottle of wine (some drinking beer). It is nice to see drinking conversations, which are easy, get transformed into something serious like a Phd, which is not easy.

Now you might easily argue this is all common sense. Of course, if the gas prices get so high people has to start making adjustments in their spending and/or behavior - with one option to start using human powered transport it is a foregone conclusion that people would lose weight and become healthier. And that common sense statement seems to have some validity, but still Dr. Courtemanche looked at this in a serious and scholarly fashion, and backed up this argument with more that BS.

In several cities bike sales have risen 20-40% in the last month - a step (pedal) in the right direction. Now all of us might not be able to bike to work due to distance, but the many short trips (which the article states make up 40% of our trips) could be done by biking or walking. So when you need to go to the pharmacy, or the odd and ends small item grocery trip ride your bike. And what about going to the gym? You just paid X amount of dollars because you wanted to get in shape then you DRIVE to the gym that is 6 blocks down the road - walk or bike there.

Maybe we didn’t need Dr. Courtemanche to tell us that the rise in gasoline would result in more of us using human powered transportation, which will lead us to lose weight and become a healthier nation - but it is a friendly reminder of the power of a little daily exercise to bring about meaningful change.

Reduced obesity

Improved health

Lower health costs

Just what most developed nations need - though I am sure they could do without the high gas prices (as we all could). Now if we (the majority of a country) could just make exercise a part of our daily routine without being forced into it by high gas prices (maybe too much to ask).

2 Responses

  1. David Says:

    I want to know the why behind gas prices i keep checking things like https://yovia.com/peter-greenberg-and-larry-king-to-discuss-oil-prices
    but have yet to understand it.

  2. JB Says:

    my gym is on the 2nd floor. you would not believe the # of people who take the elevator.

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