Too Few Kids Walk To School, Possibly Contributing to Childhood Obesity, CDC Study Finds
Only one-quarter of American children walk or bike to school, and the trend may be contributing to increasing levels of childhood obesity, according a new CDC report, the AP/Nando Times reports. The survey, the CDC's first attempt to examine why children do not walk to school, found that in 1999, 19% of school children walked to or from school at least once a week and 6% biked. Parents cited distance, traffic, weather and crime as the main reasons that their children did not walk or bike to school. CDC officials said that the lack of exercise among children is a concern because the number of overweight adolescents has tripled since 1980, and in 1999, 13% of children and teenagers were overweight. Saying that increasing physical activity among children should be a "national health objective," the report set a goal to get at least 50% of children who live less than one mile from school to walk or bike by 2010. In addition, the report advocates improving the safety of walking routes. As an example, the report cited Marin County, Calif., which launched a two-year program to develop safer bike lanes and paths. That program has doubled the number of children who use the paths. Deb Hubsmith, director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, said, "It's been such a success because it's showed us how healthy a community can be when we don't rely on the car for every single trip" (Wyatt, AP/Nando Times, 8/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.