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Built environment and health
Detail: In the June 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics, the Committee on Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement on the built environment and children's health. The eight-page statement presents a critique of existing environmental conditions for children, with an emphasis on the United States, and recommends design principles that encourage active living.

The critique covers the inequitable distribution of parks and recreational facilities in residential neighborhoods, car dependency, dangerous traffic, air pollution, sprawl, "big box" schools on the periphery of towns and cities, a lack of sidewalks and street connectivity in many residential developments, and "food deserts" where fresh healthy foods are unavailable. Recommendations include neighborhood schools that encourage walking and biking, safe streets, sidewalks, increased density, mixed use developments, increased investments in parks and recreational facilities, community gardens, attractive streetscapes, urban design that fosters "eyes on the street," and programs like Safe Routes to School and walking school buses.

The statement concludes by urging pediatricians to become involved in local planning processes, identify barriers to physical activity in the environments of their patients and their families, and encourage parents to advocate for better environments on children´┐Żs behalf. It also suggests ways that governments can target legislation, funding, and regulations to promote the development of healthy communities for children. For everyone working for this goal, the statement signals that influential new allies have emerged among the American Academy of Pediatrics and its members.

Source: Committee on Environmental Health. (2009). The built environment: Designing communities to promote physical activity in children. Pediatrics, 123(6), 1591-1598.
Date: June 4 2009