Fit Cities

Fit Cities

My Quest to Improve the World's Health and Wellness--Including Yours

Karen K. Lee


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Dr. Karen K. Lee is a force for good around the world, working behind the scenes to help people improve their diets, get in shape, and live longer.

In the arena of public health, this Canadian woman is an international superstar. In the early 2000s, she went to the US to join a team of "health detectives" for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking was in decline, and so the US CDC's attention had turned to the next biggest causes of premature death: over-eating and under-exercising. Dr. Lee's zeal in seeking out the root causes--in schools, restaurants, and environments that encourage a sedentary, calorie-packed way of life--was matched by her inspired approach to finding solutions.

She was next recruited by the City of New York, where she was instrumental in introducing Active Design, an initiative for creating opportunities for healthy living in everyday life that has helped reverse childhood obesity and lengthen life expectancies. Her influence has since spread around the world.
Dr. Lee has always known that health education, public service announcements, and our individual struggles are not enough. The world around us needs to change to support us in taking steps (literally and figuratively) to save our own lives. Working with civic leaders, city planners, and architects, she has been a pioneer in addressing today's leading health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, strokes, cancers, and diabetes.

Fit Cities is a riveting memoir of that work--the story of how Dr. Lee and her many teams of brilliant collaborators uncovered, and set about eradicating, the causes of a pandemic of unhealthy living. And every step of the way, it offers invaluable advice on how we can all help ourselves to live healthier lives.


Karen K. Lee:
KAREN K. LEE, MD, MHSc, FRCPC was born in Penang, Malaysia, and moved with her family to Canada at age eight. She studied medicine at the University of Alberta and completed residency training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. Lee is an Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. As an advisor, her clients and partners have included the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Australian Heart Foundation, several offices of the World Health Organization, and city, provincial and state governments and organizations around the world.

In 2006, Dr. Lee was recruited by the City of New York City to address its epidemics of obesity and non-communicable disease. In the same year, Dr. Lee, in partnership with the American Institute of Architects, took the lead in organizing the first annual Fit City Conference in New York. With Dr. Lee's help, other Fit City Conferences have been held in the US, Australia, Latin America and the UK.
For more information on Dr. Karen Lee, Active Design and other resources, see