The Pervasive Effects of Environments on Childhood Obesity

May 3, 2010

Healthy Kids Challenge shares views of the impact environments have on childhood obesity…along with our simple, every day, evidence-based solutions.

Concerns:

Americans are aware of the role neighborhoods can have on residents’ safety and well-being; but how much do these aspects of the “built” environment influence obesity rates in kids? Research shows that kids living in neighborhoods with the most unfavorable social conditions were 50% more likely to be physically inactive, 52% more likely to watch television more than 2 hours daily, and 65% more likely to engage in computer use more than 2 hours per day; compared with children living in the most favorable social conditions.

Policy Recommendations:

From Health Affairs journal:

Provide increased opportunities for physical activity by using more federal funding to improve communities’ existing trail or path systems and sidewalks, and to create bike trails, playgrounds, and recreational facilities.

Solutions:

  • Talk with your local and state government representatives about increasing community physical activity options.
  • Encourage community organizations to provide a physical activity component to their existing children’s programming. See HKC best practice examples with an extension agent and a community library.

What ideas do you have to improve the physical activity options of the “built environments” in your community?

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