Here at TheCityFix, we’ve already written about how “fighting childhood obesity and creating opportunities for everyday activity and interaction through better planning go hand in hand.” Yesterday, our recommendations to move towards a more national model of active community design were echoed by Michelle Obama’s Childhood Obesity Task Force, which released its first Report to the President, “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation,” as part of the national Let’s Move! campaign.
Besides commenting on how kids are eating too much fast food and watching too much TV, the 124-page report also acknowledges that America’s youth are less physically active as a result of fewer transport choices and poorly integrated community design:
[C]hildren are increasingly driven to school by car or bus, rather than walking or biking 50 In part, these shifts in transportation reflect changes in community design. Physical activity is higher in more “connected”communities that provide safe and reliable access to public transportation, as well as other forms of active transport like biking and walking.
The task force outlines several recommendations related to sustainable transport and urban planning, particularly in regards to its goals of 1) increasing access to healthy, affordable food, and 2) increasing overall physical activity Below are some highlights.
Access to Healthy, Affordable Food
- Local governments should be encouraged to create incentives to attract supermarkets and grocery stores to under- served neighborhoods and improve transportation routes to healthy food retailers
Increasing Physical Activity
- Reauthorize a Surface Transportation Act that enhances livability and physical activity
- The Environmental Protection Agency should assist school districts that may be interested in siting guidelines for new schools that consider the promotion of physical activity, including whether students will be able to walk or bike to school
- Communities should be encouraged to consider the impacts of built environment policies and regulations on human health
- The Federal Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) should be continued and enhanced to accommodate the growing interest in implementing Safe Routes to Schools plans in communities
- “Active transport” should be encouraged between homes, schools, and community destinations for afterschool activities, including to and from parks, libraries, transit, bus stops, and recreation centers
- Increase the number of safe and accessible parks and playgrounds, particularly in underserved and low-income communities