The location of houses, schools, stores, open space and sidewalks can make it harder or easier for kids to exercise and play. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health recommends policies and funding to improve communities’ abilities to support active lifestyles. 
In one New Orleans community, children with access to a safe schoolyard on evenings and weekends were 84 percent more active than those in a neighboring community without schoolyard access. 
Lower-income communities typically have less access to parks than affluent communities. Eliminating this disparity is an important step toward improving both kids’ and adults’ levels of physical activity. 
The BMIs of 5,380 kids, tracked from the beginning of kindergarten to the end of first grade, grew, on average, more than twice as fast during the summer as during the school year. 
In Southern California, Latinos and African-Americans often have as little as one-sixth the park space as Whites. 
Race and poverty level are strongly associated with access to bike paths, public pools and beaches, parks and recreational facilities. 
Of 407 schools in six states, one-third were locked on the day the authors visited; one-tenth had no amenities to allow for physical activity. Opening the locked schoolyards would have increased basketball court accessibility by 20 percent, playgrounds by 18 percent and athletic fields by 16 percent. 
The number of California teens who are inactive is on the rise. About one-third of California adolescents don’t get recommended amounts of physical activity. 
More than 60 percent of U.S. adults don’t meet recommended amounts of physical activity. Twenty-five percent are inactive. 
As obesity rates rise, so do health risks such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression. The increase in childhood overweight and obesity is linked to numerous social, environmental and policy factors. 
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2. Farley T.A., R. Meriwether, E. Baker, L. Watkins, C. Johnson, L. Webber. Safe Play Spaces To Promote Physical Activity in Inner-City Children: Results from a Pilot Study of an Environmental Intervention. American Journal of Public Health 9 (2007): 1625-1631. <http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/9/1625>. (Subscription required for full text.)
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7. Scott M.M., D. Cohen, K. Evenson, J. Elder, D. Catellier, J. Ashwood, A. Overton. Weekend Schoolyard Accessibility, Physical Activity, and Obesity: The Trial of Activity in Adolescent Girls (TAAG) Study. Preventive Medicine 5 (2007): 398-403. 25 May 2009. <http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1978099>.
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10. Childhood Obesity in the United States: Facts and Figures. Fact sheet. 2004. Institute of Medicine. <http://www.iom.edu/File.aspx?ID=22606>.