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Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(4):729-730

Walking as transportation is part of an active lifestyle that can decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer. However, the number of children walking to or from school has decreased from previous years. In 1969, almost one half of all children and 87 percent of those living within one mile walked or biked to school. Currently, less than 15 percent of children are using active modes of transportation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report on the barriers to children walking to and from school in the United States in 2004. The report appears in the September 30, 2005, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, and additional information is available online at

Researchers examined data from surveys that parents completed to describe the barriers preventing their children five to 18 years of age from walking to or from school. Distance from the home to school (61.5 percent) was the most commonly reported barrier, followed by traffic-related danger (30.4 percent). Fifteen percent of parents cited “other” as a barrier, 11.7 percent reported crime as a barrier, and 6.0 percent reported school policy as a barrier. Only 15.9 percent (95% confidence interval, 14.1 to 18.0 percent) of parents selected the response, “It is not difficult for my child to walk to school.” The CDC believes that comprehensive initiatives that include behavioral, environmental, and policy strategies are needed to address these barriers to increase the percentage of children who walk to school.

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