Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

Exercising and Transportation Policy.

It doesn't take much exercise to maintain health. Several studies have shown that, and the newest is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. It found that women who walked at a moderate pace through middle age were healthier in their post-70 years, and women who walked at a brisk pace regularly had even more benefits. That's all it takes: walking. Which is why our image of an ideal healthy person -- the women on TV with six-pack abs and the gym rat men who are always guzzling protein shakes -- can sometimes be counterproductive. If you want to be really fit, you have to work out a lot, and the workouts have to be strenuous. But if you just want to avoid a heart attack, the steps are really easy. Moreover, the studies boost lifestyle changes more than they do to gym memberships. Office workers might find bringing sneakers and walking to work or during their lunch breaks more convenient and realistic than rushing to the gym in the evening and finding an empty treadmill. It also...

Giving Parents Information on Food.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that parents choose meals with fewer calories for their children when calories are posted on the menus. The study found the meals parents chose when given calorie information had about 20 percent fewer calories than those chosen when parents were not presented with calorie information on the menu. Lack of information is where the personal responsibility argument usually breaks down. Once parents make the decision to go to a fast-food chain, it's hard to expect them to know the difference between one type of kids meal and another. But those little differences can add up to a big change over time, not to mention the benefits from just making parents more aware of the calories food actually contains. If parents start to see how high in calories the lowest available options actually are, then maybe they'll start checking out some new places to take their kids to lunch. -- Monica Potts

Walking Away From Bad Debts.

Two gigantic real estate companies, Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock Realty, that bought the last sizable chunk of middle-class housing in Manhattan are walking away from the failed project and turning the properties over to their creditors: The surrender of the properties, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, ends a tortured real estate saga that saw the partnership make expensive improvements to the complex and then try to rent the apartments at higher market rates in a real estate boom. But a real estate downturn and the city’s strong rent protections hindered those efforts, leaving the buyers scrambling to make payments on loans due for the properties, which have been a comfortable harbor for the city’s middle class since they opened in the late 1940s. “We have spent the last few weeks negotiating in good faith to restructure the debt and ownership of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village,” said the statement by the partnership. “Over the...

Poverty on the Rise in Suburbs.

The Brookings Institution released a new report this week finding that poverty rose fastest in 2008 in suburbs, particularly in suburban and urban areas in the midwest. It also found that more Americans are now low-income, hovering just above the poverty line. Over the course of this decade, two economic downturns translated into a significant rise in poverty, nationally and in many of the country’s metropolitan and non-metropolitan communities. Suburbs saw by far the greatest growth in their poor population and by 2008 had become home to the largest share of the nation’s poor. These trends are likely to continue in the wake of the latest downturn, given its toll on traditionally more suburbanized industries and the faster pace of growth in suburban unemployment. This ongoing shift in the geography of American poverty increasingly requires regional scale collaboration by policymakers and social service providers in order to effectively address the needs of a poor...

Trusting Women to Disregard this Ad.

As I'm sure almost everyone knows by now, 2007 Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow is taking to the airwaves with his mom during the Super Bowl so that they can tell everyone about how she disregarded the advice of her doctors and risked death to give birth to the Football Messiah. Focus on the Family, the Christian group paying for the ad, hasn't released the details of what the life-affirming message will contain, but the Gainesville Sun let us know about the tale of Tim's mama and her fifth child. Just before her pregnancy, Pam fell into a coma after contracting amoebic dysentery, a bacteria transmitted through contaminated drinking water. During her recovery, she received a series of strong medications. And even though she discontinued the regimen when she discovered the pregnancy, doctors told Pam the fetus had been damaged. Doctors later told Pam that her placenta had detached from the uterine wall, a condition known as placental abruption, which can deprive the fetus of oxygen and...