Support The World's Smartest Network

Help the New York Academy of Sciences bring late-breaking scientific information about the COVID-19 pandemic to global audiences. Please make a tax-deductible gift today.

This site uses cookies.
Learn more.


This website uses cookies. Some of the cookies we use are essential for parts of the website to operate while others offer you a better browsing experience. You give us your permission to use cookies, by continuing to use our website after you have received the cookie notification. To find out more about cookies on this website and how to change your cookie settings, see our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.

We encourage you to learn more about cookies on our site in our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.

Sloth: Is Your City Making You Fat?

Sloth: Is Your City Making You Fat?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The New York Academy of Sciences

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.

Reception to follow.

Registration Pricing

Nonmember Student$20

This event is part of the Science and the Seven Deadly Sins Series

In this series we're looking at some of the ways the Seven Deadly Sins show up in the sciences. To do that, we're bringing together top scientists, authors, chefs, urban planners, and many others to help us explore our base nature. Each event will feature indulgent receptions afterwards, as well as opportunities for you to interact with the speakers and one another. Join us for this vice-ridden round of events!

Wrath Goes Viral, Oct 17, 2012
Pride: Flying Cars and other Broken Promises, Nov 28, 2012
Greed: Willing to Do Anything, Dec 11, 2012
Lust and Love in the Animal Kingdom, Feb 12, 2013
Sloth: Is Your City Making You Fat?, Mar 13, 2013
Envy: The Cutthroat Side of Science, Apr 30, 2013
Gluttony: Deconstructing Dinner, May 23, 2013

Learn more about the series here.



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


Mariela Alfonzo, PhD

Polytechnic Institute at New York University

Bridging the worlds of academia and practice, Dr. Alfonzo is the Founder of State of Place, a place rating and walkability diagnostic tool tied to economic value, the president of Urban Imprint, an urban design-behavior research and consulting firm, and a Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor at NYU-Poly where she's focusing on the links between the built environment and obesity in rapidly urbanizing Chinese cities. For over a decade, Dr. Alfonzo has been examining the relationship between the built environment and behavior, focusing on walkability and sustainability within the context of neighborhood revitalization.Her research and consulting work has included walkability evaluations, extensive work on walkability metrics, suburban retrofitting, and the triple bottom line of urban design, all with the goal of producing evidence-based design and policies. She has a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis on Urban Design and Behavior, as well as a Masters in Urban Planning, from the University of California, Irvine, and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Psychology from the University of Miami. She tweets at @stateofplaceorg

Kaid Benfield

Natural Resource Defense Council

Kaid Benfield is director of sustainable communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. He leads NRDC’s activities pursuing solutions to environmental challenges where Americans live, work, and play. Kaid also teaches regional planning and sustainable development practices at the George Washington University School of Law.

Kaid co-founded LEED for Neighborhood Development, a national process for defining and certifying smart, green land development under the auspices of the U.S. Green Building Council. He is also a founder and board member of Smart Growth America, a nationwide coalition working on revitalizing cities, building better neighborhoods, and stopping the spread of suburban sprawl.

Kaid is a prolific writer whose portfolio spans several books including Once There Were Greenfields, Smart Growth in a Changing World, and Solving Sprawl. He also writes articles several times each week for The Atlantic Cities, Huffington Post, Sustainable Cities, Better Cities and Towns, and NRDC websites. His forthcoming book is People Habitat: 20 Ideas that Change the Way We Think About Cities.

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.

Travel & Lodging

Our Location

The New York Academy of Sciences

7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich Street, 40th floor
New York, NY 10007-2157

Directions to the Academy

Hotels Near 7 World Trade Center

Recommended partner hotel

Club Quarters, World Trade Center
140 Washington Street
New York, NY 10006
Phone: 212.577.1133

The New York Academy of Sciences is a member of the Club Quarters network, which offers significant savings on hotel reservations to member organizations. Located opposite Memorial Plaza on the south side of the World Trade Center, Club Quarters, World Trade Center is just a short walk to the Academy.

Use Club Quarters Reservation Password NYAS to reserve your discounted accommodations online.

Other nearby hotels

Millenium Hilton


Marriott Financial Center


Club Quarters, Wall Street


Eurostars Wall Street Hotel


Gild Hall, Financial District


Wall Street Inn


Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park