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Walkable Neighborhoods May Decrease Childhood Obesity

walkable neighborhoods

Fighting childhood obesity one step at a time.
Photo credit: iStockPhoto

Are you sick of hearing about childhood obesity? The term childhood obesity epidemic is popping up everywhere and we’re not likely to see that stop any time soon. It’s a huge issue, but it’s a prime example of something in which the tiniest of steps can make a huge impact.

In this case, actual steps can help us fight this battle. A new study shows that kids are less likely to be overweight if they live in walkable neighborhoods, meaning they live within walking distance to parks and retail stores. This Canadian study revealed that even after adjustments were made for other factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, gender, and more, the walkability of a child’s neighborhood was associated with BMI. Over 3,000 Toronto children were followed in a study called TARGetKids! (The Applied Research Group for Kids) in order to determine whether factors in early childhood (0-5 years) are related to health problems later in life.

By judging neighborhoods based on car ownership, safety, distance to parks, population, and proximity to retail locations, the study revealed that more overweight and obese children lived in neighborhoods that were less conducive to walking. While this may be useful information when you’re house hunting, it may not be something that’s all that helpful at this exact moment. But even if you’re not currently shopping for houses, you can apply this little factoid to your everyday life. The key takeaway from this study is that kids that were walking more in their day-to-day life were less likely to be overweight. So take an extra walk around the park with your kids, have them run around the backyard, park faraway from the entrance of stores, and don’t discount the little extra steps we can all take throughout the day. It can make a lasting impact on your child’s health.

(And just for the record, the same goes for adults!)

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