August 21 2014

City Focuses on Safety not Soda Taxes

Julie Gunlock

I support the idea that childhood obesity deserves some public policy attention. I disagree with how politicians usually tackle the issue--with sin taxes and bans and all sorts of rediculous regulations that cost jobs and hurt the poorest Americans.  

I can support government efforts to make cities safer so that kids can go outside and play or feel more secure walking to school. After all, as IWF visiting fellow Lane Scott explained last year, according to study released last year by the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, only half of American preschoolers go outside on a daily basis and according to another report by the National Wildlife Federation, on average, American kids only spend four to seven minutes playing outside every day, compared to more than seven hours in front of a television or video game.

That's pretty grim.

Exercise is key to keeping fit and unfortunately fewer kids are doing it.

That's why I was happy to see this story from the local CBS station in Baltimore, MD  (h/t Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids) about a new program called “Safe Routes to School” that will place flashing lights on the road to warn drivers and bikers and provide bright, colorful footprints on the sidewalk to help guide kids safely to school.

I'm sure some curmudgeons might say "hey, I walked to school and I didn't need bright flashing lights and a painted path" but I can't help but applaud city administrators for focusing on these initiatives rather than silly soda bans and sin taxes. These things might just work to get kids to walk to school and get some activity in their daily routines.

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