Guest Post from the Institute at the Golden Gate
In the past decade, rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases have skyrocketed in children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that more than one-third of adults in the United States—more than 72 million people—are considered medically obese and therefore more likely to develop major chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Lack of physical activity and poor diet has been established as the causes of an unhealthy, overweight nation. The CDC estimates that more than 40 percent of the U.S. population is sedentary.
The epidemics that result from an indoor, sedentary lifestyle require action from all sectors of society. Parks and public lands are an underutilized, low-cost healthcare resource that can and must be used to help solve the problem. There is a growing consensus that nature has many health benefits, from increased physical activity to mental, emotional, and community health benefits. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we help convene an initiative called Healthy Parks, Healthy People: Bay Area (HPHP: Bay Area) that fulfills a clear need to increase access to parks and develop them as health resources for the whole family—especially those in the highest health need communities.
Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy