Before answering the question poised in the blog prompt I thought it would be interesting and beneficial to think about design in general.
1) to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), esp. to plan the form and structure of: to design a new bridge.
2) to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan
This started me thinking about how every aspect of our world has to go through some design process before it can be implemented. Our pencils, backpacks, computers, buildings, walkways, buildings, schools, and even cities are conceived and edited by a team of designers before it even comes close to you, the consumer. Without designers we would have no organized system within our society. No efficiency. For example, I started looking at my ipod. I noticed how it felt in my hand, how much it weighs, how it was colored, and how easy it was to use. On a larger scale I could look around my campus, how are the different buildings connected, how are they oriented and placed with respect to each other, how are roads placed in a city so you can get from point A to point B, what about the placement of trees.
The more I looked the more I saw a distinction between good and bad designs. You begin to see what had been constructed haphazardly only to provide for an immediate need, and what had been constructed carefully. Often the things that have been designed carefully have taken into account the big picture around the object. Let’s move back to the design issues within our lives. Some are more serious than others. The less serious only inconveniencing us as we go about our daily activities, while the more serious issues can go as far as to threaten our very lives.
For a design issue I would like to talk about obesity in America. I found this chart at the Obesity in America website.
It is certainly clear in all age groups that the percentages are increasing from year to year and we need to stop and ask ourselves why this is happening. There are several different ways you can approach the problem. Some stand by the research that shows that obesity is a result of genetic makeup, one example would be the hormone lepton. It is secreted by fat cells to help control food intake. In short, research has shown that obese patients do not respond to the lepton in their blood, suggesting that something in their genetic makeup prevents them from responding to the hormone. On the other hand, the environment that we live in today has a major influence on obesity. First off we live in a fast paced society. In our food, we are sacrificing nutrition for speed. Our fast growing cities eliminates the possibility of walking or biking as a major form of transportation. Our children no longer partake in physical activity. In our technological age we can now meet all our needs by going on the internet, playing video games or watching TV. There are 200,000 deaths in a year that are attributed to physical inactivity. The medical cost associated with physical inactivity and its outcomes is approximately $76 billion. This is a major design issue and we cannot just let it go. We need to be actively engaging the problem as we design and expand. One interesting solution is to build a new type of community where all the necessary services would be within walking distance. This would result in more physical activity and a tighter nit community.
To conclude I would like to take a step back and look at the issue as a whole. You can see that there is a certain amount of responsibility for people to maintain an active healthy lifestyle. However, after analyzing the environmental factors associated with obesity, I think there is something to say there. The way we live our lives is converging toward this result. If we continue to design the way we have been we will only see the percentages in America rise. This leaves our generation with a choice, we can either choose to change or continue on the same path and hope it would go away.