The Challenge: Children and adolescents do not get enough physical activity. Obesity and physical inactivity increase risk for serious health conditions among children.
Make an impact: Smart growth is an urban planning strategy that promotes compact housing development, walkable neighborhoods, close proximity of housing to shops and restaurants, and ample parks and recreation areas. These community design features have the potential to promote physical activity and reduce risk for obesity.
What the findings are about: This study examined whether children living in a community designed according to smart growth urban planning principles are physically active in different types of places or with different types of people than children living in conventional suburbs.
Key Findings and Recommendations:
Moving to a smart growth community may change the types of places where children are physically active and increase the overall amount of physical activity in which they engage.
Children living in smart growth communities engage in more physical activity near their homes than children who live in traditional suburban communities, possibly because smart growth communities may provide children better access to parks, playing fields and community centers that do not require parents to drive.
Children in smart growth communities may be active more often with friends, because more children live within walking distance.
Zoning and land use policies that promote compact housing development, walkable neighborhoods, close proximity of housing to shops and restaurants, and access to parks and recreation areas have the potential to increase children’s physical activity and reduce their risk for obesity.
Dunton, G.F., Intille, S.S., Wolch, J., Pentz, M.A. (2012). Investigating the Impact of a Smart Growth Community on the Contexts of Children’s Physical Activity using Ecological Momentary Assessment. Health & Place, 18(1), 76-84.