JAMA on Walking and Walkability

High and low walkability neighborhoods in NYC

High and low walkability neighborhoods in NYC

Following up on its two recent articles about neighborhood walkability, including an editorial co-authored by Andrew Rundle, JAMA today published a Medical News and Perspectives article entitled “As Walking Movement Grows, Neighborhood Walkability Gains Attention”.  The article notes the various Federal Agencies that are working on improving neighborhood walkability including: the US Department of Health and Human Services which launched an initiative “Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities.”; the CDC funded National Physical Activity Plan Alliance’s forthcoming (expected early 2017) “Walking and Walkability Report Card”; and the collaboration of the USDOT, the CDC, and the American Public Health Association to release the online Transportation and Health Tool, which provides access to data on the health effects of transportation systems and includes a focus on active transport.

In regards to the lack of randomized trial data on neighborhood walkability and the paucity of longitudinal studies in the literature, the article quotes Jim Sallis Sallis saying that even without direct evidence of causality, “the correlational evidence is really piling up.” and that “the risk of improving walkability appears very low, whereas the benefits could be very substantial.”

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