How one’s environment impacts weight

An environment that promotes a lack of activity and unhealthy food choices puts one at risk to gain weight unhealthily.

You’ve seen your doctor and followed her advice regarding healthy weight loss, and you finally get to your weight goal. Are you still at risk for weight re-gain? Yes, if your environment hasn’t changed. An obesogenic environment may sabotage your result and make a healthy weight maintenance program more difficult.

Take the quiz below and find if you are at risk then read on for some simple solutions for combating it:

  1. My neighbors and I can walk or ride a bicycle to work, school, church or shop
  2. There are bicycle path and walk space along the roads
  3. We have parks, picnic areas, and sports areas in my hometown.
  4. I feel safe walking outdoors in my neighborhood.
  5. There are fewer than three fast-food restaurants within a 5-minute drive from my house.
  6. There is plenty of farmers market in my hometown.
  7. I can find a wide variety of fresh produce and healthy, minimally processed foods at my local grocery stores.

Mostly no answers indicate high risk.
Backyard space with play area (photo by

Recommendations to overcome the obesogenic environment are the following:

Get your incidental exercise 
Studies of where there is mixed land use that is, there are residences and businesses nearby— have been shown to contribute to lower obesity rates. Similarly, sidewalks and bike paths also have been shown to correlate with healthier body weights. Instead of the long commute, plan a long bike trip to run errands, or walk to the house of your friends instead. Make this a weekly habit, and it helps burn the calories efficiently, increase your fitness level, and is more environmentally friendly as well.

Take advantage of the great outdoors
If there is a shortage of good, safe parks in your neighborhood, merely being aware of the impact on your fitness helps. Living in metropolitan areas, have Sport and Fitness Clubs that offer weekly organized sports and fitness events at area parks. You may want to convert your backyard into a play area. Have your friends and neighbors come over for a volleyball tournament.
Keep it fresh and local
Avoidance of fast food joints, perhaps by taking a different route home can help. But if a lack of healthful staple foods also plagues you, you need to go on the offensive. There are at least one farmer’s market or co-op within driving distance; you will be surprised at the different products they have.

Research your neighborhood for better supermarket choices; Try not to let cost dictate your decisions; often, healthy food does cost a bit more. You will also likely spend more time getting to and from a larger and more health-focused store. However, the rewards you will reap with your health and medical weight loss program more than outweigh the incremental time and cost.  

Cheryl SarmientoHow one’s environment impacts weight