Obesity and the Built Environment

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#1
I'm a "newbie" to Cyburbia. I am NOT a planner but a physician who specializes in pediatrics with a special interest in childhood obesity prevention. I am active in our Regional Community Design Center which is encouraging of walkable and bikeable community design as well as green space for recreation and play. We have an epidemic of obesity that starts early in childhood. I'm interested in public policy change, particularly in the re-design of school settings to encourage healthy eating and exercise. I'd love to hear from anyone who has been involved in the planning and architecture of schools as well as the re-design of some of our older structures.
 

Veloise

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#2
Welcome, lasne! Feel free to start a discussion in one of the most frequently-viewed threads.
 

Hink

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#3
Welcome from the Great State of Ohio! Please add any insight you may have about walkability or any other topic. Glad to have you.
 
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#5
Hello from New York! We have a similar interest but from different fields. One of my focuses as a public planner is to improve public health through planning policy and land use.
 

luckless pedestrian

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#6
Welcome from downeast Maine - have lots of family in Rochester, grew up in Syracuse NY :)

our fair town has the highest walk to work numbers in the state- most families that livein the village easily live on one car, kids walk to school - very nice!
 
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#7
Welcome from Maryland. I did my master's capstone project on planning and public health. You can access it at http://umcp.academia.edu/ScottDempwolf/Papers/497055/Planning_for_Public_Health_The_Case_for_a_Public_Health_Element_in_the_Comprehensive_Plan. I don't deal specifically with obesity, but rather the roots of the disconnect between planning and public health. Dick Jackson is probably the most prolific writer on the topic of obesity - last I heard he was back at Berkeley (public health). Andy Dannenberg at the CDC has been working in this area for many year as well. Both helped me with my project and are pretty accessible.
 
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#8
Hello from one state east. If you aren't already familiar with it, check out the Safe Routes to School national program. Our local schools are very active in the mission and have a project group made up of parents, planners, teachers, and school administrators. A physician would be a great addition!
 

wahday

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#10
Welcome from New Mexico lasne. A few more resources to look into.

http://www.thefoodtrust.org/ The Food Trust is a Philadelphia-based organization that looks at issues of obesity and nutritionally-related diseases not just through the lens of the built environment, but also in terms of access to whole, raw foods (ie, supermarkets). For example, they have identified "food deserts" in Philly and have a large fund to entice supermarkets to locate in these areas. They also have a color-coded nutritional program they are integrating into public schools in these areas. This same color coding is also used by corner markets participating in the program to help kids make informed decisions about what they consume. Teens get some enormous percentage of their daily caloric intake from corner markets in urban areas.

http://www.rwjf.org/ Also, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been funding community-based health initiatives around the built environment, increasing mobility, education, etc. for some years now. As I understand it, these research-based initiatives collect results that are housed in a growing database for use by health professionals and others. I know they had a RWJF funded project here in Albuquerque some years back that involved school-based education, improvements to walkability, etc. You can sign up to receive a regular e-mail for their Active Living Research program area. One just came through a few minutes ago with lots of interesting looking info.

We need more interaction between health professionals and planners, IMO. Glad to have you here.
 

kjel

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#11
Welcome from New Mexico lasne. A few more resources to look into.

http://www.thefoodtrust.org/ The Food Trust is a Philadelphia-based organization that looks at issues of obesity and nutritionally-related diseases not just through the lens of the built environment, but also in terms of access to whole, raw foods (ie, supermarkets). For example, they have identified "food deserts" in Philly and have a large fund to entice supermarkets to locate in these areas. They also have a color-coded nutritional program they are integrating into public schools in these areas. This same color coding is also used by corner markets participating in the program to help kids make informed decisions about what they consume. Teens get some enormous percentage of their daily caloric intake from corner markets in urban areas.

http://www.rwjf.org/ Also, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been funding community-based health initiatives around the built environment, increasing mobility, education, etc. for some years now. As I understand it, these research-based initiatives collect results that are housed in a growing database for use by health professionals and others. I know they had a RWJF funded project here in Albuquerque some years back that involved school-based education, improvements to walkability, etc. You can sign up to receive a regular e-mail for their Active Living Research program area. One just came through a few minutes ago with lots of interesting looking info.

We need more interaction between health professionals and planners, IMO. Glad to have you here.
Both excellent organizations with a lot of information and funding in the case of RWJ. Of course I am partial since RWJ is based right here in my backyard and I'm sandwiched between NYC & Philly. I work in urban areas doing community development and one of the things I always try to push is access to a variety of quality food options as well as access to preventative health care services.

The Food Environment Atlas is a great mapping tool to evaluate what's going on food wise down to the county level. http://maps.ers.usda.gov/FoodAtlas/
 
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#12
Hello, from Dallas, TX!:) Unfortunately, I live in a very auto-dependent city and state. People look at me funny when I talk about walking to school.
 

wahday

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#13
Here is an op-ed from the NYTimes about some coordinated efforts between Philly's new Mayor Michael Nutter and the Food Trust. It touches on the two programs I mentioned (Corner Stores and incentives to locate supermarkets in Philly's urban food deserts) along with some others. I like Mark Bittman quite a bit - he has a lot of interesting things to say about the intersection of food and society.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/go-philly/?hp?hp

After meeting with Nutter, I toured town with Food Trust staffers Yael Lehmann, Brian Lang and others. We visited corner stores in North Philadelphia that have enrolled in the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which starts owners with a small cash bonus and, after a trial period, gives them refrigerators (manufactured in North Philly) for stocking fresh fruits and vegetables. (So far around 500 stores have enrolled in the program; most are in the beginning stage.) Unlike the average corner store, these had piles of oranges and bananas by the cash register, and small refrigerator cases with greens, tomatoes and, in at least one instance, bags containing 50 cents’ worth of grapes — sold out on the day I visited. These are not huge changes, obviously, but they’re significant ones.

Significant, too, is the collaboration among Philadelphia, Food Trust and the state. In 2004 Pennsylvania set up a grants and loans program called the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, encouraging the opening of supermarkets in poor neighborhoods. Since then, 26 new supermarkets have opened, rehabbed or expanded in underserved parts of the city.
 
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#14
Obesity Preventio

Thanks for all the great suggestions! I spoke with Dick Jackson about two years ago about this issue and he was most helpful. I think I'll get back in touch with him.
 
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