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Community development, Urban, City planning, Obesity -- Prevention, Community development -- Planning -- Evaluation, Land use -- Planning


Obesity continues to be a major public health problem in the United States. As of 2007, 28.8% of adolescents were either overweight or obese. The rise in obesity may, in part, be attributable to declines in physical activity (PA) levels. In 2007, only 34.7% of adolescents met the national PA guidelines. Since PA levels decrease between childhood and adolescence, the middle school transition is a particularly vulnerable period that warrants special attention. In 2003, Somerville, Massachusetts organized an Active Living by Design (ALbD) partnership to promote community- wide active living through promotion activities (maps), policy changes, programs to engage immigrant communities, and physical changes to the environment (bike lines), and data gathering to evaluate these activities (student height, weight and fitness measurements). The partnership collaborated with other community initiatives to maximize the collective impact for health promotion. This study evaluates PA among a diverse population of middle school students (6th-8th grades) in Somerville and a neighboring comparison community concurrent with Somerville?s ALbD promotion efforts. Specifically, we will 1) document Somerville PA trends over time; 2) examine between-city differences in meeting PA recommendations; 3) explore the relationship(s) of utilization of recreational space and social support on PA; and 4) discuss the policy implications of our findings.

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