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Children in public housing play outdoors more
Date:2/17/2011

Young children living in urban public housing spend more time playing outdoors than other urban children, according to researchers at Rice University, Columbia University and Princeton University.

Contrary to the expectations of the researchers, who hypothesized that children living in poorer circumstances would be playing outside less, the study found that 5-year-olds living in public housing played outside 13 percent more per day, on average, than did other urban 5-year-olds. Children living in places of high physical disorder -- areas with visible graffiti, trash, and abandoned homes -- also played outside more per day.

The researchers also concluded that the ratio of outdoor play to television watching is a significant predictor of body mass indexes (BMIs). The study, "Young Children in Urban Areas: Links Among Neighborhood Characteristics, Weight Status, Outdoor Play and Television-Watching," showed that for each additional hour the children played outside over the amount of time spent watching television, children scored 1.5 percentile points lower on BMI. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The higher a person's BMI, the higher their risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

"A key to solving obesity problems among poor, urban children is to create safe and open spaces where these kids can play, because now we know that they are outside playing," said Rachel Kimbro, assistant professor of sociology at Rice University and lead author of the new study. "It's possible that children living in public housing have access to community playgrounds and courtyards for children to play outdoors, which could be why we see more outside play time for them."

Kimbro and her co-authors -- Jeanne Brooks-Gunn of Columbia University and Sara McLanahan of Princeton University -- also found that a mother's perception of her neighborhood's physical and social environment wa
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Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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