Obesity prevention, environment and school transportation
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Obesity rates among children around the world have reached an epidemic level. Having an option to walk or bike to school is important for mobility, health and equity purposes. However, fewer students are walking or biking to school today than a generation ago, and fewer students live within a walkable distance to schools. This chapter highlights the existing evidence from multiple disciplines on health and equity issues related to school transportation. It then assesses the literature dealing with the built environmental correlates of walking or biking to school. Travel distance and safety were found to be the strongest predictors of walking or biking to school. Studies suggested that about one-half to one mile (0.8-1.6 km) between home and school was generally considered walkable. Other factors such as roadway conditions, sidewalk continuity, bike lane availability, signals, lighting, and neighborhood design appeared important but with some inconsistencies in the findings. Many commonly reported environmental barriers were related to transportation infrastructure, such as high-volume and high-speed roadways, unsafe street crossings, and railroads. Compared with distance, safety and transportation infrastructure, neighborhood characteristics such as density, land use, and overall street patterns appeared less significantly associated with school transportation. Our review revealed evidence supporting the link between school transportation and the built environment. It also discovered many remaining questions for future research, such as interactions and causalities between personal and environmental factors, environmental influences from multiple spatial scales, and differences between objective and perceived measures. 2009 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Obesity and Adolescence: A Public Health Concern