Albemarle County Schools Fighting Obesity Epidemic

That obesity is an epidemic saddens me.

One could read this article in today’s Daily Progress that way …

Albemarle officials are mapping out new school bus routes that likely will save the school division money next academic year but would force students to walk farther.

“Even in a regular suburban neighborhood, we’re going to have more children walking to fewer bus stops, as opposed to some of the door-to-door service,” said Josh Davis, the schools’ transportation director.

The adjustment is projected to save $150,000 to $250,000 per year.

Elementary school students will have to walk as far as three-tenths of a mile, which is about 528 yards. Bus stops for middle and high school students will require them to walk up to a half-mile.

Sure, they’re really having these discussions about changing routes because of the budget, but why not look at this through the eyes of health?

I understand that not all area of Albemarle County have sidewalks or safe walking paths to bus stops or schools, but for those areas and neighborhoods that do have such infrastructure, why not walk a few more yards?

Walking is more environmentally friendly (good), saves money (good), helps our kids (and parents, likely) get a few seconds of exercise (good), might lead to neighbors meeting and interacting with each other (good) …

If we’re complaining about walking a safe three-tenths of a mile, we really need to re-examine our priorities.


MSNBC:

Nearly half of the children in North and South America will be overweight by 2010, up from what recent studies say is about one-third, according to a report published by the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.

From Yahoo Green:

I read an article on Salon.com awhile back that said that in the 1960s, more than 90 percent of kids who lived within a mile of school walked or bicycled to school on a regular basis. Today only 30 percent do.

And at the same time, there’s growing reluctance on the part of many children and their parents to use the school buses that pass by their doors every school day offering curbside service.

The net result of all of this is that today an estimated 30 percent of all morning traffic is attributable to parents driving their kids to school, a practice that was virtually unheard of a couple generations ago. Perhaps not surprisingly, another thing that was virtually unheard of a couple generations ago was the childhood obesity epidemic. Go figure.

I know, I know, I know: The world has changed and nothing’s as safe as it used to be. BTW, there’s very little statistical proof for that statement, but plenty to suggest that our response to today’s increased risks — real or imagined — is way out of whack with the reality of the situation.

For example, a child faces a 40 times greater risk of being killed in a car accident while being driven to school by a parent than of being molested while walking, bicycling, or taking a bus to school.

Don’t take my word for it – search for yourself – obesity walking to school.

This study looks particularly interesting.

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2 Comments

  1. Clay Boggess June 28, 2010 at 07:15

    It’s always nice whenever you can attempt to “kill two birds withone stone”; however, having elementary students walk an additional three-tenths of a mile in order to help fight obesity will not make much of a difference . Parents must be the ones to ultimately ensure that their children are health by feeding them correctly and making sure they are active. Although the schools can do their part as well; ultimately it’s the parents who are responsible for their students health.

    Reply
  2. jmcnamera June 28, 2010 at 15:46

    As a kid, our school buses were 6 blocks apart – worse case was a kid walked 3 blocks which was a little less than 3/10th of a mile.

    It’s no big deal and I’ve been amazed at how close some bus stops are, almost door-to-door service.

    This change will help the kids be healthier, the buses get their job done faster and will let traffic flow more freely.

    Reply

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