Safe routes to school examined: How structural changes around schools affect children’s mobility and safety

June 9, 2014, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The problem. In 1969, more than 40 percent of U.S. schoolchildren ages 5 to 18 walked or bicycled to school. By 2009, this number had declined to 12.7 percent. A 2008 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigating why more children do not walk to school found traffic safety to be the second most common barrier, after distance to school.

In 1999, California became the first state to approve legislation creating a Safe Routes to School program (SR2S). Eight years later, in 2007, legislative bill AB 57 extended the program indefinitely with funding provided from the State Highway Account at an annual amount of $24.25 million. Projects are identified through a statewide competition and require a 10 percent local match. They support engineering modifications near schools, such as new traffic lights, bike lanes, pathways, and sidewalks in the vicinity of schools serving K–12 students with the goal of making walking and biking easier and safer for children.

David Ragland, Director of the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at the University of California, Berkeley, led the research team studying the long-term impact of the improvements on walking and bicycling levels and on safety. Continue reading

Chat with NCCOR about childhood obesity on Sept. 9

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Today, nearly one out of three kids in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in the African American and Hispanic communities. Overweight and obese kids are at risk for a host of chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.

In observance of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September, join the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research for a Twitter Chat on Sept. 9, at 2 pm, ET.

We’ll be using the hashtag #childobesitychat.

Hosted by NCCOR (@NCCOR) alongside the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (@NICHD_NIH) and National Cancer Institute (@theNCI), we’ll discuss risk factors, research, and promising strategies. Most importantly, we’ll direct you to valuable resources.

In addition, NCCOR members Layla Esposito, Ph.D., and April Oh, Ph.D., M.P.H., of NICHD and NCI, respectively, will serve as our subject matter experts and help guide the discussion.

“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of the social media conversation around childhood obesity,” said Dr. Oh.

“Working with NCCOR to engage with researchers, practitioners, and the broader public about childhood obesity using the interactive Twitter platform is a dynamic way to communicate health and disseminate information,” she added.

Please include #childobesitychat in your tweets and follow @NCCOR for more information. Also, register for our chat at http://twtvite.com/childobesitychat.

Tweet you soon!

NCCOR brings together four of the nation’s leading research funders – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and application of childhood obesity research and accelerate progress in reducing childhood obesity.  

TEDMED hosting special live discussion about childhood obesity

On July 22, TEDMED is hosting an online discussion about the progress and challenges of our nation’s ongoing struggle with childhood obesity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Heart Association, Academy Health, the University of California-San Francisco, and the City of Philadelphia will be part of the discussion.

Presenters include:

  • Richard Besser (Moderator), Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Continue reading

New resources from Bridging the Gap and CDC highlight local school wellness policies

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Bridging the Gap program, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently released a new set of resources highlighting opportunities to support wellness policies through evidence-based strategies. These briefs provide an assessment of policies across school districts nationwide, related to seven wellness policy components. They also highlight areas of opportunity for state agencies, school districts, and schools to strengthen wellness policy components. See all seven topic area briefs plus a methods document below. Continue reading

RWJF infographic explains positive impact of healthier school meals

A new infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) draws on the best of RWJF-funded research to show how 30+ million kids in the United States have healthier school meal options than children had 10 years ago.

Released June 9, “Healthier School Meals Matter” highlights the positive impact of healthy school meals on kids’ choices and obesity rates, particularly among children from low-income families. Check it out below, and read more about the infographic here.<!–more–>

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School gardens grow kids’ physical activity levels

March 20, 2014, Cornell Chronicle

By Ted Boscia

To get school children moving, uproot them from classrooms into school gardens, concludes a two-year Cornell study of 12 elementary schools in five New York regions.

By experiment’s end, kids at schools with gardens were moderately physically active at school for 10 more minutes a week than before their schools had gardens. That was an increase of four times what peers experienced at gardenless schools. What’s more, children who gardened at school were substantially less sedentary at home and elsewhere than their counterparts.

With nearly one in three American children overweight or obese, school gardens could be a simple, low-cost way to get kids more active, said environmental psychologist Nancy Wells, associate professor of design and environmental analysis in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

She presented the findings March 11 at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research Conference in San Diego. Continue reading

There’s more to ending childhood obesity than ‘Eat Less, Walk More’

July 10, 2013, EducationWeek.org

By Ross Brenneman

The American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation held a joint conference in Washington yesterday about fighting obesity in America. The conference, “Signs of Progress,” highlighted 11 areas in the United States with declining obesity rates, with teams of panelists and keynote speakers brought in from those places to discuss successes.

The “why” of the conference is plain and simple: Obesity is an epidemic. Physicians now classify it as a disease. Two-thirds of the United States is overweight. According to a June 2013 United Nations report, among populous nations, the United States trails only Mexico in adult obesity rates, and that itself is only a recent development. Continue reading

American Heart Association Voices for Healthy Kids’ Request for Award

BACKGROUND
Over the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups.  Today, nearly one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese. Obese and overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become obese adults, placing them at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and certain forms of cancer.

The American Heart Association (AHA) together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) are working to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015 and to decrease racial, ethnic, and income disparities in prevalence. Through our Voices for Healthy Kids’ Strategic Campaign Fund, the AHA is targeting the following six state, local and tribal advocacy priorities: Continue reading

Infographic details ‘what works to get kids active’

A new infographic by Active Living Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), shows the estimated amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, in minutes, that children could get from several distinct school and community policy changes. A combination of these can help kids meet the national recommendation of daily physical activity. Continue reading

Food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents: Limited progress by 2012, recommendations for the future

For decades, American children and adolescents have been surrounded by advertising and marketing for unhealthy foods and beverages. While the food and beverage industry, as well as local and national levels of government, have started to recognize the role that food and beverage marketing plays in driving the childhood obesity epidemic, American youths are still exposed to a disproportionate amount of marketing for unhealthy products across a variety of media.

This research review from Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, summarizes the academic and industry literature on trends in food marketing to children and adolescents, as well as policy initiatives undertaken to address the contribution of marketing practices to the childhood obesity epidemic, from March 2011 to May 2012. Policy implications and future research needs are also highlighted. Continue reading