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For Active Kids, Less Crime, More Parks

New TFC study reveals correlation between crime, parks, and children’s physical activity.

 

August 24, 2016 – High crime neighborhoods pose a threat to childrens’ immediate safety. A recent study suggests they may also affect how active New York City kids are, adding to a growing body of evidence that where you spend time can impact your long-term health. Researchers at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College and Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University explored the relationship between students’ physical activity and their neighborhood environments. Specifically, “neighborhood crime rate and access to parks appear to correlate with children’s physical activity,” notes lead author Matt Graziose. These findings are especially timely as children are heading back to school, and Mayor De Blasio announced initiatives to increase funding for public parks and school physical education programs in underserved neighborhoods over the next several years.

This study, published in Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy (PCD), investigates how four neighborhood features - total crime, park access, public transit options, and walkability - impact physical activity around 20 low-income NYC schools. Data on 5th graders’ duration and frequency of physical activity were from surveys from the Food, Health & Choices trial. These survey data were compared to the amount of crime, parks, public transportation, and the walkability score in each school’s enrollment zone.

Researchers found that total crime relates to lower physical activity for boys and that increased access to parks correlates with more physical activity for girls. It’s important for schools and policy makers to recognize external factors that kids face when encouraging them to be more active. As shown by this study, simply urging them to play may not be sufficient. “These findings can help design and evaluate school-based obesity prevention programs and inform policy changes that address environmental characteristics such as crime and public transportation,” Graziose says. They highlight the need for kids to have safe places to play in school and at home. As New York City rolls out plans for more parks and physical education in low-resource communities, there is hope that we will begin to see more equity in improvements for students’ futures.

Published Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

For Active Kids, Less Crime, More Parks

August 24, 2016 – High crime neighborhoods pose a threat to childrens’ immediate safety. A recent study suggests they may also affect how active New York City kids are, adding to a growing body of evidence that where you spend time can impact your long-term health. Researchers at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College and Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University explored the relationship between students’ physical activity and their neighborhood environments. Specifically, “neighborhood crime rate and access to parks appear to correlate with children’s physical activity,” notes lead author Matt Graziose. These findings are especially timely as children are heading back to school, and Mayor De Blasio announced initiatives to increase funding for public parks and school physical education programs in underserved neighborhoods over the next several years.

This study, published in Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy (PCD), investigates how four neighborhood features - total crime, park access, public transit options, and walkability - impact physical activity around 20 low-income NYC schools. Data on 5th graders’ duration and frequency of physical activity were from surveys from the Food, Health & Choices trial. These survey data were compared to the amount of crime, parks, public transportation, and the walkability score in each school’s enrollment zone.

Researchers found that total crime relates to lower physical activity for boys and that increased access to parks correlates with more physical activity for girls. It’s important for schools and policy makers to recognize external factors that kids face when encouraging them to be more active. As shown by this study, simply urging them to play may not be sufficient. “These findings can help design and evaluate school-based obesity prevention programs and inform policy changes that address environmental characteristics such as crime and public transportation,” Graziose says. They highlight the need for kids to have safe places to play in school and at home. As New York City rolls out plans for more parks and physical education in low-resource communities, there is hope that we will begin to see more equity in improvements for students’ futures.

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