Communities for Healthy Kids

By Richard Florida

A new study in the medical journal Pediatrics (h/t Planetizen) finds that community and the built environment - everything from walkable streets to the location of schools - have big effects on the health of our kids.

An estimated 32% of American children are overweight, and physical inactivity contributes to this high prevalence of overweight.This policy statement highlights how the built environment of a community affects children's opportunities for physical  activity. Neighborhoods and communities can provide opportunities for recreational physical activity with parks and open spaces, and policies must support this capacity. Children can engage in physical activity as a part of their daily lives, such as on their travel to school.

Factors such as school location have played a significant role in the decreased rates of walking to school, and changes in policy may help to increase the number of children who are able to walk to school. Environment modification that addresses risks associated with automobile traffic is likely to be conducive to more walking and biking among children. Actions that reduce parental perception and fear of crime may promote outdoor physical activity. Policies that promote more active lifestyles among children and adolescents will enable them to achieve the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. By working with community partners, pediatricians can participate in establishing communities designed for activity and health.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2009/06/communities-for-healthy-kids/18649/