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Lindsey Turner, Jamie F. Chriqui and Frank J. Chaloupka

Background:

Active transportation to school provides an important way for children to meet physical activity recommendations. The “walking school bus” (WSB) is a strategy whereby adults walk with a group of children to and from school along a fixed route. This study assessed whether school-organized WSB programs varied by school characteristics, district policies, and state laws.

Methods:

School data were gathered by mail-back surveys in nationally representative samples of U.S. public elementary schools during the 2008−2009 and 2009−2010 school years (n = 632 and 666, respectively). Corresponding district policies and state laws were obtained.

Results:

Nationwide, 4.2% of schools organized a WSB program during 2008−2009, increasing to 6.2% by 2009−2010. Controlling for demographic covariates, schools were more likely to organize a WSB program where there was a strong district policy pertaining to safe active routes to school (OR = 2.14, P < .05), or a state law requiring crossing guards around schools (OR = 2.72, P < .05).

Conclusions:

WSB programs are not common but district policies and state laws are associated with an increased likelihood of elementary schools organizing these programs. Policymaking efforts may encourage schools to promote active transportation.

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Amy Eyler, Jamie Chriqui, Jay Maddock, Angie Cradock, Kelly R. Evenson, Jeanette Gustat, Steven Hooker, Rodney Lyn, Michelle Segar, Nancy O’Hara Tompkins and Susan G. Zieff

Background:

In the United States, health promotion efforts often begin with state-level strategic plans. Many states have obesity, nutrition, or other topic-related plans that include physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to assess PA content in these state plans and make recommendations for future plan development.

Methods:

Publically available plans were collected in 2010. A content analysis tool was developed based on the United States National PA Plan and included contextual information and plan content. All plans were double coded for reliability and analyzed using SPSS.

Results:

Forty-three states had a statewide plan adopted between 2002 and 2010, none of which focused solely on PA. Over 80% of PA-specific strategies included policy or environmental changes. Most plans also included traditional strategies to increase PA (eg, physical education, worksite). Few plans included a specific focus on land use/community design, parks/recreation, or transportation. Less than one-half of plans included transportation or land use/community design partners in plan development.

Conclusions:

Though the majority of states had a PA-oriented plan, comprehensiveness varied by state. Most plans lacked overarching objectives on the built environment, transportation, and land use/community design. Opportunities exist for plan revision and alignment with the National PA Plan sectors and strategies.

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Amy Eyler, Tina Lankford, Jamie Chriqui, Kelly R. Evenson, Judy Kruger, Nancy Tompkins, Carolyn Voorhees, Susan Zieff, Semra Aytur and Ross Brownson

Background:

Trails provide opportunities for recreation, transportation and activity. The purpose of this article is to describe state legislation related to community trails, to analyze legislation content, and to evaluate legislation on inclusion of evidence-informed elements.

Methods:

State trail legislation from 2001 to 2008 was identified using online legislative databases. An analysis of evidence-informed elements included in the legislation was conducted. These elements included: funding, liability, accessibility, connectivity, and maintenance.

Results:

Of the total 991 trail bills, 516 (52.0%) were appropriations bills, of which 167 (32.2%) were enacted. We analyzed 475 (48%) nonappropriation trail bills of which 139 (29.3%) were enacted. The percentage of enactment of appropriations bills decreased over time while enactment of nonappropriations trail bills increased. Over half of the nonappropriations trail bills included at least 1 evidence-informed element, most commonly funding. Few bills contained liability, connectivity, accessibility, or maintenance.

Conclusions:

There is opportunity for providing evidence-informed information to policy-makers to potentially influence bill content. The number of bills with a funding element demonstrates that fiscal support for trails is an important policy lever that state legislatures may use to support trails. Lastly, trails should be considered in over-all state-level physical activity legislation to provide opportunities for communities to be active.