A new special issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine released this week contains six studies that rely on geographic mapping data to show how location impacts health, according to an article in Time Magazine.
Two of the studies focused on neighborhood attributes to determine how different features — the availability of parks and quality supermarkets, for example — affect obesity. They found a significant effect: kids who could walk to schools and libraries and find healthy food at nearby supermarkets were 59% less likely to be obese than kids whose neighborhoods didn’t allow that.
The studies found that children who lived in neighborhoods that ranked high in both physical activity and nutritional “environments” had half the obesity rate of kids in neighborhoods that scored low in both areas. Those kids without easy access to parks, schools or healthy food had a 16% rate of obesity and their parents had a rate of 28% compared to 8% for children and 20% for parents who lived nearby supermarkets and could walk back and forth to school.
This is why the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is so important. Safe Routes to School is a broad-based nationwide program that advocates, through various hands-on programs in schools, for safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, and in daily life, to improve the health and well-being of America’s children and to foster the creation of livable, sustainable communities. In New Jersey, the New Jersey of Department of Transportation has partnered with the Greater Mercer TMA to administer the SRTS statewide education and encouragement program using Safe Routes to School Federal SAFETEA-LU funds. The goal of the program is to educate and encourage more children to walk and bicycle to school. For more information about the program please email the TMA by clicking here.
Want to learn more? Sign up for our upcoming webinar on Walking School Buses, one of the many projects that can be a part of any SRTS program. The webinar, titled “All Aboard the Walking School Bus: Walking to School in a Safe, Fun, and Healthy Way” is on Thursday April 19 from 12:15pm – 1:00pm. Walking School Buses and Bike Trains are great for getting more kids to walk and bike to school, but organizing them can be a challenge. Join us for this 45 minute webinar on successful approaches and resources for creating group walks and rides to school.
This webinar will help participants:
- Understand the benefits of creating a Walking School Bus
- Learn the key components of a successful program
- Hear case studies of successful programs in New Jersey
- Learn about resources available to help implement a Walking School Bus or Bike Train program
You can also get a good overview of what SRTS is by listening to the webinar we presented last month, “Walking and Biking to School: Inspiring Safer, Healthier, More Active Students.” A recording of the webinar has been made available on the Safe Routes to School Resource Center website; you can view the webinar by clicking here. The webinar is the first link listed under “Safe Routes to School Educational Programs and Webinars.”