State and local leaders make decisions that impact opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating. Government leaders have the unique ability to convene key decision-makers, enable information flow and collaboration, promote important community issues, and support policies that create environments in which children and their families can have healthy choices.
An active living community is designed to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to engage in routine daily physical activity. Government leadership in such a community embraces diverse policies and programs that support active living, such as:
Active living communities encourage individuals to be more physically active, thus improving health by lowering citizens' risk for health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. American communities are facing a chronic disease epidemic. Sixty percent of U.S. adults do not achieve the 30-minute daily physical activity recommendation, and 30 percent are completely sedentary. Sixty-four percent of youth do not meet the 60-minute, five-days per week recommendation. Health care costs associated with overweight and obesity were estimated at $92.6 billion in 2002 dollars, based on 1998 data. Active Living communities enhance citizen quality of life, attract business and knowledge workers, and contribute to economic development.
Healthy eating means eating the right amount of food to support a healthy weight and eating the right types of food to support overall health. Healthy eating is supported by healthy food environments that ensure access to healthy foods. Research is underway to identify the best ways to change policies and environments to make healthy eating the easier, more accessible and more appealing option.
The Local Government Commission (LGC) assists communities to become more livable, walkable, and healthy through the following active living initiatives:
Leadership for Healthy Communities is a $10 million national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that supports state and local government leaders in efforts to reduce childhood obesity through public policies that promote active living, healthy eating and access to healthy foods. Support is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of its Leadership for Healthy Communities national program.
Healthy Transportation Network supports local elected officials and city managers in California with creating more walkable and bike-friendly communities.
We also receive support from The California Endowment to Improve Health Through Community Planning. LGC provides technical support to public officials and city/county staff in low-income California communities to support inclusionary planning processes and informed decision-making that create healthier environments.
The LGC offers the following publications to assist local governments with building more active communities:
Smart Growth and Health
Street Design and Walkability
Overcoming Barriers to Walkable Communities
Planning for Smart Growth Development
Additional LGC resources can be found at our Center for Livable Communities.
For more information on Leadership for Healthy Communities Network and to receive additional assistance,
Scott Clark, Project Manager
Local Government Commission
(916) 448-1198 x320
Become an LGC Member and receive added benefits!