By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director
My son's three year checkup is coming up soon and when I see his pediatrician, I'm interested in talking about the new policy statement in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics about how the built environment can support healthy and active lifestyles.
It's all good information -- nothing too new, but the audience is powerful. The quick summary (in my words) is this: Obesity is going up. The environment affects child health. Walkable, safe neighborhoods promote physical activity. Physical activity reduces obesity. All good stuff. But what's really interesting to me are the recommendations, which fall into two categories : policy recommendations and pediatrician recommendations.
On the policy side, the authors suggest promoting laws and regulations to support active living. This includes more parks, better school siting and safer pedestrian routes to schools. It's exciting to see the health community really getting on board with policy recommendations for a built environment that supports children's health.
Equally as exciting, the recommendations for pediatricians are specific to getting pediatricians involved as advocates for child health. The authors recommend that pediatricians:
And to get involved themselves:
As an advocate for student health issues, it's great for me to see new advocates from a variety of fields join the effort to promote healthy communities and healthy schools.
In Illinois, we have a great chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics that has been very aware and supportive of school and community health issues. (HSC serves on their Committee for School Health).
And this formal policy statement in the Academy's national journal is an opportunity to reach out to an even broader audience across the country.
Building a new school? Pulling a green team together in your school? Starting a walking program? Call your local pediatricians and get them involved. They have a lot to offer as allies in creating environments that support children's health.