related research

How communities are designed affects how active and healthy kids are

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. [1]

Children found to be more active when they have safe places to play

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. [2]

One quarter of California teens don’t have a safe park near home

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. [3]

Kids gain weight faster during the summer than during the school year

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. [4]

Income and race linked to unequal access to park space

In Southern California, Latinos and African-Americans often have as little as one-sixth the park space as Whites. [5]

Lower-income communities and communities of color more likely to have barriers to physical activity

Race and poverty level are strongly associated with access to bike paths, public pools and beaches, parks and recreational facilities. [6]

Locked schoolyards linked to higher BMIs

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. [7]

California teens not getting enough exercise

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. [8]

Most Americans not active enough

More than 60 percent of U.S. adults don’t meet recommended amounts of physical activity. Twenty-five percent are inactive. [9]

Childhood obesity up more than 100 percent in last 30 years

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. [10]

Full citations

1. Tester J.M., et al. The Built Environment: Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children. Pediatrics. 6 (2009): 1591-1598. <>.

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. <>. (Subscription required for full text.)

3. Babey, S.H., A.L. Diamant, E. R. Brown, and T. Hastert. Teens Living in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Lack Access to Parks and Get Less Physical Activity. Issue brief. Mar. 2007. Los Angeles: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. 1 June 2009. <>.

4. Von Hippel P.T., B. Powell, D. Downey, and N. Roland. The Effect of School on Overweight in Childhood: Gain in Body Mass Index During the School Year and During Summer Vacation. American Journal of Public Health 4 (2007): 696-702. 25 May 2009. <>.

5. Sister, C., J. Wilson, and J. Wolch. The Green Visions Plan for 21st Century Southern California: Ch. 15 Park Congestion and Strategies to Increase Park Equity. Publication. Dec. 2007. University of Southern California GIS Research Laboratory and Center for Sustainable Cities. 21 May 2009 <>.

6. Powell, L. M., S. Slater, and F. J. Chaloupka. “The relationship between community physical activity settings and race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.” Evidenced Based Preventive Medicine 1 (2004): 135-44. 21 May 2009 <>.

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. <>.

8. Babey, Susan H., Allison L. Diamant, E. Richard Brown, and Theresa Hastert. California Adolescents Increasingly Inactive. Issue brief. Apr. 2005. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. 21 May 2009 <>.

9. A Report of the Surgeon General: Physical Activity and Health. Rep. 1996. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 21 May 2009 <>.

10. Childhood Obesity in the United States: Facts and Figures. Fact sheet. 2004. Institute of Medicine. <>.

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