Everyone knows the importance of taking the stairs rather than the elevator, although not everyone does. There are lots of things that can impact our decision to take the stairs – our fitness levels, how high in the building we may need to go, whether we’re injured or disabled, or even simply our energy levels on any given day. But does the aesthetic appeal of a staircase ever come into question? David Burney think so.
A Celebration of Stairs
Burney, a New York City Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction says that we should make the most of the staircases in every building, and by making them aesthetically pleasing, we can encourage more people to climb them. He, perhaps rightly, points out that in trying to make life easier, architects and building planners have also made life sedentary and this, in turn, has made us lose our love of the grand staircases that are so often a focal point in old buildings. In their place, we see elevator shafts, perhaps with a small sign indicating the way to a drab staircase that is there for necessity alone.
Two of the biggest problems facing America today are unemployment and obesity – two seemingly unrelated but equally serious issues. After some of the most difficult economic times since the 1930s, America’s unemployment levels peaked at almost 10% in 2009, leveling out to around 6.3% today. Obesity, likewise, has more than doubled for both adults and children in the US since the 1970s, with around 69% of adults being overweight or obese, and 35% being obese. More and more studies, however, are investigating the link between unemployment and obesity and as results start to flood in, it seems that they are not as unrelated as they seemed.
Studies are starting to show that there is a significant link between unemployment and obesity, especially amongst unskilled workers who are struggling to find work. In fact, a Gallup study suggests that if you are between 18 and 44 and unemployed, you are 30% more likely to be obese than your counterparts in full-time employment. High-skilled workers, who may have had sedentary jobs that led them to develop their own fitness plan are more likely to continue exercising and may have savings to help them to eat healthy after losing employment. Low-skilled workers, alternatively, tend to work physical jobs and use that to burn calories. When the job is lost, their only form of exercise goes with it, and it can be difficult to get out of a cycle of watching TV and eating junk food. Of course, these are sweeping generalisations but the statistics are hard to ignore.
Most Americans ingest an amount of sugar equal to their own weight each year. Consumption of such large doses of sugar (also known as maltose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, honey or fruit juice concentrates) can increase a wide number of diseases.
According to the American Heart Association the average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, and it's a whopping 68 kg per year. Teens consume even more – on average an American has 34 teaspoons a day.