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Am J Public Health. 2012 Nov;102(11):2068-73. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300913. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

Walking to school in Japan and childhood obesity prevention: new lessons from an old policy.

Author information

1
World Health Organization Centre for Health Development, Kobe, Japan. nagisamori@gmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We analyzed the Japan's walking-to-school practice implemented in 1953 for lessons useful to other cities and countries.

METHODS:

We reviewed background documents (gray literature, online government information, local policy documents, and regulations) for existing regulations in several urban settings. We also contacted boards of education.

RESULTS:

Each municipality has a board of education in charge of public schools, which considers the geography, climate, and the transport situation to determine the method of commuting. Because there is high availability of schools in urban areas and most are located within walking range of the children's homes, walking is the most common method. There are different safety initiatives depending on the district's characteristics. Parents, school staff, and local volunteers are involved in supervision.

CONCLUSIONS:

The walk-to-school practice has helped combat childhood obesity by providing regular physical activity. Recommendations to cities promoting walking to school are (1) base interventions on the existing network of schools and adapt the provision to other local organizations, (2) establish safety measures, and (3) respond specifically to local characteristics. Besides the well-established safety interventions, the policy's success may also be associated with Japan's low crime rate.

PMID:
22994195
PMCID:
PMC3477970
DOI:
10.2105/AJPH.2012.300913
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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