Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo Tries New Station Seats… for the Obese

New Subway Station Seats in Sao PaoloThe chairs are twice as wide as normal and are designed to encourage the less-than-fit to ride the subway.

The London Telegraph reports that Sao Paulo has begun installing special seats in subway stations designed to encourage the city’s most overweight to use the transit system. Brazil’s largest city has a 40-mile subway system that carries more than 3 million people daily.

Brazil, like most advanced countries, is suffering from an obesity epidemic, and the new seats are part of a government initiative to improve the lives of those who can’t fit comfortably in typical chairs. The seats’ very different shape and identifiable color, however, has been a turn-off for overweight riders, who, according to the Telegraph story, don’t feel comfortable using them.

As far as I know, there is no similar initiative in United States subway or light rail systems. Too bad, though, since our obesity rate — at around a third of the adult population, is far higher than that of Brazil. It’s true that people living in cities, used to walking around, tend to be slimmer than their suburban or rural counterparts, but 20% of New Yorkers are obese.

On the other hand, the subway seats in Gotham’s new trains and most of the benches in stations are flat, without divisions, making sitting possible for people of every weight and size. Perhaps that’s a better solution than the special seats for fat people Sao Paulo has adopted.

Image above: from the Telegraph