The city’s “nanny” mayor is kicking his campaign to get New Yorkers fit and healthy up a step – in fact, several steps.
Mayor Bloomberg this morning announced a series of first-in-the-nation anti-obesity initiatives that include designing new buildings with more stairways so that people will be encouraged to move around more.
“New York City has been a leader when it comes to promoting healthier eating and now we’re leading when it comes to encouraging physical activity as well,” said Mayor Bloomberg, who has outlawed everything from oversized sodas to trans-fat.
“Physical activity and healthy eating are the two most important factors in reducing obesity and these steps are part of our ongoing commitment to fighting this epidemic.”
Working with a new Center for Active Design, a non-profit organization that promotes changes to the built environment to fight obesity and related chronic diseases, the city aims to promote physical activity through the design of buildings and public spaces.
An Executive Order will require all city agencies to use active design strategies when performing all new construction and major renovation projects.
The Mayor also announced two pieces of legislation to promote stairway access in all buildings.
The package of initiatives will promote active design through measures such as making stairways more visible to encourage use, creating more inviting streetscapes for pedestrians and bicyclists and designing spaces suitable for physical activity for people of different ages, interests and abilities.
The Mayor made the announcement at The New School, which is using active design principles in the construction of its new University Center on Fifth Avenue, where he was joined by Joanna Frank, executive director of the Center for Active Design; Joseph Gromek, board chair, The New School; Lia Gartner, FAIA, vice president for design, construction, and facilities management at The New School; and Roger Duffy, FAIA, design partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, designers of the University Center at The New School.
“We know that regular stair use increases physical activity and active stairways are one of many ways we are creating a healthy environment,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “As a result of these initiatives, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers may now take the stairs, saving the equivalent of 500,000 pounds of weight among adult New Yorkers annually.”
“For years, architects and planners have been making it easier for people to be sedentary, compounding the nation’s obesity problem,” said Commissioner Burney. “The active design movement asks design professionals to be part of the solution and find new ways to encourage movement, both in buildings and on the streets.
“The benefits of active design can be profound: just two minutes of stair climbing a day – rather than using an elevator – can help prevent annual weight gain.”
Since the Bloomberg Administration started its health kick for New Yorkers, the city’s rate of childhood obesity has decreased by 5.5 percent.
For more information on the Center for Active Design, visit www.centerforactivedesign.org.