In September 2009, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity, a report that identifies specific actions that local governments can take to increase physical activity and improve healthy eating in communities.
Local governments play a crucial role in the fight against childhood obesity by creating environments that make it either easy or hard for children to eat healthier diets and move more. The report presents several policy recommendations, including:
- Adopt a pedestrian and bicycle master plan to develop a long-term vision for walking and bicycling in the community and guide implementation.
- Plan, build, and maintain a network of sidewalks and street crossings that creates a safe and comfortable walking environment and that connects to schools, parks, and other destinations.
- Collaborate with school districts and other organizations to establish shared use of facilities agreements allowing playing fields, playgrounds, and recreation centers to be used by community residents when schools are closed; if necessary, adopt regulatory and legislative policies to address liability issues that might block implementation.
- Improve access to bicycles, helmets, and related equipment for lower-income families, for example, through subsidies or repair programs.
- Collaborate with school districts and developers to build new schools in locations central to residential areas and away from heavily trafficked roads.