Safe and available sidewalks. Healthy foods being sold at neighborhood stores. Clean parks and bike paths for children and adults. These are just three examples of things that can promote healthy eating and increased physical activity.
Today, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announces that North Kingstown, Pawtucket, and South Kingstown will each receive a grant to create policies that promote active, healthier lifestyles in an effort to prevent and reduce obesity. The grants total $225,000 and were awarded through HEALTH’s Healthy Places by Design project.
“Almost 30% of Rhode Island children, ages 10 to 17, are overweight or obese,” said Interim Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. “Less than half of adults engage in regular physical activity. To fight the obesity epidemic, we need cities and towns to make policy changes on the local level. We have to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”
These three communities will work to improve the health of their residents through community planning and the built environment. Community planning can include new or updated zoning policies or ordinances. A community’s built environment is man-made items like buildings, roads, playgrounds, sidewalks, or landscaping. Given the substantial effect of a community’s built environment on the health of its residents. HEALTH is starting to focus more attention on improving the built environment as a means of obesity prevention. These changes will make it easier for people to choose healthier behaviors, like playing in the neighborhood park instead of playing computer games.
Funding for this initiative comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) award to Rhode Island. In addition to the grant money, the three municipalities will receive technical assistance from HEALTH and the Rhode Island Division of Planning. Funds will be allocated over the next year.
To learn more about HEALTH’s Healthy Places by Design Project, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/programs/healthyplacesbydesign/