The global obesity epidemic is already staggering – and it keeps on growing. In Canada, for example, one person in five is overweight and nearly one in 10 is obese – a two-and-a-half-fold increase over the past two decades. Moreover, obesity rates among children in Canada have almost tripled in the past 30 years. Our societies are transforming previously healthy children into generations of adults who in future decades will suffer widespread chronic ill-health and overpopulate hospital wards. Efforts to curb the trend have been largely unsuccessful. Avi Friedman looks at the environmental factors associated with the rise in obesity in suburban areas and calls for coherent and realistic steps to provide healthful surroundings for young people in particular.