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Parents' perceptions of neighborhood safety influencing children's physical activity
Detail: A study, conducted by Lori Weir and her colleagues from New York Medical College, investigated the degree to which parents in a poor inner city vs. a middle-class suburban community limit their children's outdoor activity because of neighborhood safety concerns. Reported in the September issue of the journal Preventive Medicine, this study hypothesized that negative perceptions of neighborhood safety in poor communities may affect overweight by inhibiting children's physical activity.

Parents of children aged 510 years from an inner city family practice in a poor community and from a suburban pediatric practice in a middle-class community completed a 20-item questionnaire. Parents estimated the amount of their child's activity in various situations and indicated their level of anxiety concerning gangs, child aggression, crime, traffic, and personal safety in their neighborhood.

This study found high levels of worry about neighborhood safety in a poor inner city community and relatively low levels of concern in a neighboring suburban community. The study also found that inner city children were less physically active than suburban children. These results, combined with a negative correlation between parents' concern and children's activity in the inner city population, suggest that inner city parents restrict their children's physical activity due to safety concerns.
Source: Preventive Medicine, Volume 43, Issue 3 , September 2006, Pages 212-217
Date: October 23 2006