The Built Environment

Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation strongly agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ June 1 policy statement, The Built Environment: Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children.

The health benefits of physical activity among children have long been recognized, and the research is now conclusive that improving the built environment is an effective and efficient strategy for increasing children’s activity levels. When schools are well-located, with safe sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly street crossings, children are more likely to walk to school. When communities build safe and accessible parks, children are more likely to play outside. And when children’s physical activity levels increase, not only are they less likely to suffer from preventable disease, but also, our nation spends less money on avoidable medical costs, increasing the stability of our health system.

The recommendations issued by the AAP are consistent with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s approach to preventing childhood obesity. The Foundation believes that changing public policies and local environments in ways that make all communities healthier—especially those that have the highest rates of obesity and the fewest resources—is the best strategy for achieving our goal of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015.

We commend the Academy and its Committee on Environmental Health for this outstanding policy statement.

Dwayne Proctor, Ph.D.Senior Program Officer and Director, Childhood Obesity Team