I've been teaching a community health class as part of a junior college health science program for the last four years. In those four years, I have taken an informal poll of my 85-95 students to find out their attitudes about lifestyle choices and how a person's neighborhood might make healthy choices possible or not so possible.
I find that by the end of the class attitudes about responsibility for STD prevention and substance abuse shift to being more aware of power relationships. (I have to add that The Wire epidoses I started using two year ago did the trick) What has not changed is attitudes about obesity. Students continue to see the issue as a personal choice related to lack of discipline or self control. The article from the NEJM points to the possibility that a neighborhood (lower level of poverty) can infliuence rates of obesity and severe obesity. Unfortunately, we still do not understand why these differences occurr. When we do, it may be possible to bring the hardliners around. Click on the link to open the file.
WE NEED MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION TO PERSUADE CRITICS
Cecil: I have the same problem in my work with construction & engineering types in my field. I think the best way to make the landscape of our neighborhoods & cities "healthier" is by making the idea attractive to developers as a selling point. We see some of this already in residential eal estate markets where walkability is seen as a plus. Perhaps when/if the real estate market recovers more attention to amenities will be possible. Right now unloading property/projects is the only thing that matters.