Pretty soon I expect to hear the “smart growth” cram-everyone-in-as-close-as-possible statists start hitting this new “think of the children!” angle:

Using data from a national health survey, researchers found that teenagers living in sprawling suburbs were more than twice as likely to be overweight as teens in more compact urban areas. … The researchers believe the same factors may be driving the link between suburban living and teenagers’ weight — the major one being reliance on cars.

“In a sprawling suburb, you can do very little on foot,” said lead study author Dr. Reid Ewing of the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth Education and Research.

By contrast, he noted in an interview, people in cities are often forced to be active in their daily lives — walking to stores and public transportation, carrying groceries up the stairs to their fifth-floor walk-up apartment. …

Ewing said a growing number of U.S. communities are recognizing the pitfalls of sprawl and devising “new urbanist” designs — creating old-fashioned, pedestrian-friendly Main Streets, better public transportation and “mixed-use” zoning that places residential and commercial buildings near each other.

Cutting to the chase, it’s not the government’s business to force people to walk. If people choose to live in urban communities, great. If they don’t, boohoo for the coercive new urbanists. Only a starry-eyed government-health sap would think trading half an acre for five flights of stairs is actually a good thing.