One of my students posting something today that caused the proverbial light bulb to go on over my head. She said that one reason kids are obese is because in the summer time no one wants to go out in the heat.
It dawned on me -- when I was a child 50 years ago, air conditioning was extraordinarily rare in homes. Only the most affluent had air conditioning. Even fans, which were made of metal and relatively more expensive were not within the reach of many people.
This was of little consequence in the San Francisco Bay Area community where I grew up with its mild climate. But in much of the U.S., sweltering summer heat and humidity forced people, and especially children, out of doors, to seek summer breezes and shade and cooling sources of water. I spent part of many childhood summers in Virginia and a vivid part of those childhood memories is smothering damp heat, and the various ways we attempted to stay cool, with cool drinks and splashing in water (lawn sprinklers, wading pools, creeks and streams). Riding bicycles, roller skating, even running around in the shade of the back yard was cooler than sitting still inside.
The heat and humidity affected how we cooked and ate. No one wanted to heat up the house with the oven -- which can easily be avoided these days by using your microwave. One also felt less like eating a heavy meal on the hottest days.
Makes me wonder to what extent the prevalence of air conditioning (and microwaves) in American homes has helped turn us into a nation of overweight couch potatoes, computer and video junkies. Of course, no one is taking my air conditioner except from my hot dead hands (to paraphrase Charlton Heston).