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.


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.


  • 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?

%d bloggers like this: