Childhood obesity is a public health problem of epidemic proportions in California and elsewhere in the country. Research findings show that childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles portend concerns about diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease and stroke as children grow up. An L.A. County Department of Public Health (LADPH) analysis found that the prevalence of childhood obesity was strongly associated with economic hardship as well as less park space per capita. Health experts have called for public health interventions which, in addition to healthier food choices, include policies to encourage physical activity. Because physical inactivity is an important risk factor, elected officials, urban planners and the public health community in Southern California have placed a high priority on building new parks, bike and walking paths, playgrounds and other outdoor places for children to play and exercise. The urban environment of L.A., however, creates a public health policy dilemma between promotion of physical activity and exposure to air pollution. Its thousands of mjles of freeways and busy arterial roads are sources of exposure to air pollution, which, like physical inactivity, is an important risk factor for disease and death. Many existing (and planned) play areas are in close proximity to busy roads and freeways, especially in lower income, minority neighborhoods. While planning efforts place a high priority on building spaces for play and exercise, those efforts seldom consider potential risks to children's health of exposure to near-roadway air pollution (NRAP), including asthma and the potential for obesity. Even when aware of these near-roadway pollution concerns, obesity experts, elected officials, architects and urban planners find solutions challenging. The COTC's goal will be to protect children's health through educating new constituencies to understand the complex land use, public health and public policy dilemma between the need for increased outdoor physical activity to reduce obesity and the potential risks of active recreation near traffic pollution. A major aim will be to ensure that policymakers and planners include an evaluation of NRAP when siting new play/recreation facilities or when choosing which locations within a new or existing park to site active play areas (e.g., playgrounds) versus passive areas (e.g., meandering paths). A longer term goal is to reduce air pollution so that all outdoor play spaces are healthy places to exercise. The COTC will develop a program to disseminate new research findings from the proposed Center (SC-CEHC) investigators to the public, to include: posting findings on a new traffic-related air pollution blog;speaking to urban planners, landscape architects and others in the "park planning" world at professional meetings or in classroom settings;going on "tours" of existing or planned play spaces with planners, architects and public health experts to discuss NRAP;speaking at meetings of professional organizations, such as for school nurses or clinicians (e.g., the Obesity Society), or at conferences about smart growth and park design;co-sponsoring small workshops and a large community conference, the latter in conjunction with our NIEHS Core Center and our Impact Project community-academic collaborative; and developing a youth environmental health curriculum, with production of community maps and digital stories, and sharing it with LADPH grantees and groups working on reducing obesity through better design of recreatipn/exercise/walking areas. The COTC will call upon communications experts on its advisory committee for help on messaging to ensure that the CEHC does not appear to be discouraging physical activity. We also foresee that over the course ofthe grant new constituents will become better able to inform policymakers ofthe need to reduce NRAP through improved regulations, technology, urban design and behavior changes. The Administrative Core (AC) will support the Community Engagement activities and efforts of the COTC and provide fiscal management. The COTC will work in concert with the Center's Pediatric Health Specialist in identifying scientific and outreach opportunities for enhancing translation of Center research findings to clinicians, school nurses and the broader public health community. The COTC director will be a member of the SC-CEHC Executive Committee, where she will learn of new research findings and discuss how the COTC can help disseminate them. The COTC will serve as a liaison between researchers and the USC media office, alerting NIEHS and EPA to forthcoming results and posting press releases on the Centers'websites. The COTC will participate in the Center's quarteriy progress meetings and in annual External Advisory Committee meetings to review progress and obtain advice. These are in addition to the annual COTC advisory committee that specifically evaluates COTC progress. The COTC will ensure that there is robust communication between Center investigators and the public, with scientists speaking at many public gatherings over the course of the grant.
|Urman, Robert; Gauderman, James; Fruin, Scott et al. (2014) Determinants of the Spatial Distributions of Elemental Carbon and Particulate Matter in Eight Southern Californian Communities. Atmos Environ (1994) 86:84-92|
|Urman, Robert; McConnell, Rob; Islam, Talat et al. (2014) Associations of children's lung function with ambient air pollution: joint effects of regional and near-roadway pollutants. Thorax 69:540-7|
|Jerrett, Michael; McConnell, Rob; Wolch, Jennifer et al. (2014) Traffic-related air pollution and obesity formation in children: a longitudinal, multilevel analysis. Environ Health 13:49|