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NYAS Lecture: Sloth: Is Your City Making You Fat?

New York Academy of Sciences: 7 Deadly Sins Series

Cost: NYAS Member: $15, Nonmember: $25, Nonmember Student: $20

There will be a cheese and crackers reception after the lecture.  Those interested can go together to dinner at Whole Foods a couple of blocks away afterward -- look for me in my "Shanghai" baseball cap during the reception.

This is a popular series and it may sell out.  Read the event listing online and buy tickets at

Obesity in the US is a big problem. While myriad factors account for our nation's increasing waistlines—from poor nutrition to genetics—could our environment be equally to blame? A lack of walkable streets at home and an unparalleled reliance on car commutes may be keeping us overweight.

Author Tom Vanderbilt will moderate our panel discussion with Hunter Reed, founder of FASTNYC who installs wellness programs in NYC schools; Kaid Benfield, director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Mariela Alfonzo, an urban design researcher.

Join a panel of scientists, urban planners, and fitness experts for a talk on how designing and building better cities and towns may make us a healthier—and leaner—nation.

Moderator Tom Vanderbilt

Tom Vanderbilt is author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, now available in paperback. He is contributing editor to Artforum, Print, and I.D.; contributing writer to Design Observer; and has written for many publications, including Wired, the Wilson Quarterly, the New York Times Magazine, and the London Review of Books. He blogs at and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. He tweets @tomvanderbilt

Speakers Mariela Alfonzo, PhD

Polytechnic Institute at New York University

Mariela Alfonzo, PhD is an urban design researcher and consultant who is an expert on the value of urban design. Aiming to reinvigorate urban and urbanizing communities, Dr. Alfonzo works with planning and real estate industry professionals to enhance the social and economic value of development. Bridging the worlds of academia and practice, she translates research findings regarding the built environment's impact on behavior into sustainable planning, design, and development solutions. She focuses on issues related to walkability, social interaction, sense of community, and consumption behavior within the context of retail, mixed-use, and neighborhood revitalization. She tweets at @stateofplaceorg

Kaid Benfield

Natural Resource Defense Council

Kaid Benfield is director of sustainable communities at NRDC in Washington, DC. He manages NRDC's work advocating solutions to environmental challenges in America's metropolitan regions, cities, and neighborhoods. He has been named "one of the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Kaid is a founder of LEED for Neighborhood Development and a founder of Smart Growth America. In addition to his work at NRDC, he teaches at George Washington University Law School. He writes a popular daily blog on development, community and the environment.

Hunter Reed


Hunter Reed is co-founder of FASTNYC. Founding FASTNYC enabled Hunter to combine the things he is most passionate about — sports, nutrition, and working with kids — into his lifelong mission of bettering the lives of disadvantaged youth by giving them the tools to lead a healthy, happy and successful life. Hunter served as President of the President's Council for District 4 in East Harlem in 2009 and was also a member of the District's Leadership Team. The severe lack of organized sports and physical activity available to NYC's public school children was something Hunter became acutely aware of when his own son was a student in the NYC public school system. Realizing the lack of sports and physical fitness resources available to these children, and witnessing how many of them battle obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, Hunter was determined to find a solution. From this, the concept of FASTNYC was born.

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    I just signed up and was able to do so.

    March 5, 2013

  • Carmit

    I tried but registration is closed. :(

    March 5, 2013

  • Luis Lauro L.

    I work in culinary but I see a lot of the younger generation eating too much fast food and leaving their garbage everywhere.

    March 4, 2013

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