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Places to play: Association of park space and facilities with healthy weight status among children

Summary


Children with a park playground near their home are more likely to be of a healthy weight

Physical activity is thought to play an important role in childhood obesity. While research results to date are somewhat mixed, parks can provide important opportunities for children to be physically active. In this study, Potwarka and colleagues examine whether children’s weight is related to park space and the availability of specific park facilities within 1km of children’s homes. Researchers collected information on 108 two- to seventeen-year-old children from four neighborhoods in a mid-sized city in Ontario, Canada. Parents reported their child’s height and weight, while researchers used a Geographic Information System to assess park space for each child and a database and trained observers to assess park facilities. In analyzing the study data, Potwarka and colleagues found that proximity to park space was not significantly related to children’s weight status. The researchers did find, however, that when examining park facilities, children with a park playground within 1 km of their homes were five times more likely to be of a healthy weight than children without a park playground near their homes. This study provides valuable insight into the potential importance of children’s proximity to specific park facilities as opposed to park space in general.

Citation

Potwarka, L. R., Kaczynski, A. T., Flack, A. L., (2008). Places to play: Association of park space and facilities with healthy weight status among children. Journal of Community Health, 33(5), 344-350.

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