February 23, 2010

Is your neighborhood making you fat?

Obesity might be about what you eat, but it's also about where you live. Last week's Active Living Research conference in San Diego explored the direct link between poor urban neighborhoods and poor health. Angela Glover Blackwell, the keynote speaker and founder of the Oakland-based group, PolicyLink, had this to say:

"In America, where you live is a proxy for opportunity and well-being... And neighborhoods that have poor schools, toxic waste, no grocery stores, do not produce health."

Of course, we at KaBOOM! would add "no playspaces" to this list of contributing factors, and it's no secret that low-income neighborhoods are particularly lacking when it comes to safe places to play. Conference attendees discussed doing "walk audits" of urban neighborhoods to take note of features (or lack thereof) that prevent a healthy lifestyle. They hope to present the results from their own walk audits to city engineers to inspire action.

What do you see when you walk around your neighborhood? Are sidewalks well-maintained? Do the streets have bike lanes? How many grocery stores are within walking distance of your home? How many playspaces?  

To read KPBS' full report on the Active Living Research conference, click here.

the buzz in play, urban planning, neighborhood, obesity, health