- The assessment of neighborhood built environments, especially neighborhood walkability (a measure of how friendly a neighborhood is to walking), has been a recent focus of public health research and practice.1 Although there are a variety of web-based tools that can evaluate neighborhood walkability, in the 21st century, none has arguably received as much attention as Walk Score® ( www.walkscore.com ). In brief, Walk Score permits users to assess the walkability (a novel index based on distance to various amenities including parks and stores) of their specific street address, broader neighborhood, and overall city.
- In the summer of 2002, we each agreed to serve as members of the first National Advisory Committee (NAC) for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF's) Active Living by Design (ALbD) program. Two of us were serving as presidents of national nonprofits and one as president of a national consultancy. In diverse ways, we were each addressing elements of the ALbD mission in our day jobs. In this brief commentary reflecting on 9 years of activity, we note a few key successes, a few areas of challenge, and opportunity for further development and provide a summary pointing to the ever-progressing, but clearly unfinished, story of the national movement for healthy people in healthy places.
- There is no single solution to the childhood obesity epidemic, but there is a need for transdisciplinary collaboration and approaches that consider the potential mechanisms that promote or reduce obesity at all levels of enquiry, from cells to society.1–3 In this theme issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, we focus on place (obesogenic and leptogenic environments),4,5 specifically the use of GIS, related technologies, and spatial analytical methods in the study of childhood obesity.
- Community parks have been consistently associated with increased physical activity among adults and children.1 Because they are widely available in most urban communities, appeal to children and adults, and support many forms of physical activity,2 community parks are recognized by major health organizations for their potential to promote physical activity and to prevent obesity. The potential of public parks to support active living has prompted numerous investigations focused on the extent to which physical activity is associated with the availability and characteristics of parks, trails, and other recreational environments.
- Collecting detailed observational measures of built environment characteristics that may affect physical activity behavior is a challenge faced by communities, practitioners, and researchers. Research presented by Taylor et al.1 in this issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine adds to an emerging literature on new methods for measuring built environment characteristics that support public health research. The authors evaluate a new approach for inventorying amenities and rating the overall quality of 50 public open spaces in Sydney, Australia, using Street View imagery and aerial photography available in Google Earth.