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Walking School Buses Help Overweight Kids

Walking School Buses contribute to decrease in overweight kids

New Walking School Bus research shows Aucklanders are benefiting from more than just the annual reduction of 720,000 car trips Walking School Buses generate. It shows school kids and adults alike love the daily physical activity of the school walk.

Dr Pat Neuwelt who completed the research for the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand says, “ One third of New Zealand’s primary school children are overweight. Lower physical activity levels of children contribute to this problem. Walking School Buses help decrease obesity levels by enabling physical activity and shifting children’s attitudes about walking, helping to improve the overall health of our children.

“The research found that many Auckland children want to walk to school and those on Walking School Buses view physical activity as a natural part of life. Children’s attitudes to walking change when they walk on Walking School Buses.

“Walking School Buses offer a sociable and fun way to be active and healthy. Some school Principals also reported potential benefits in the classroom, as walking bus kids tend to be better prepared for learning when they get to school.”

Anna Percy, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s (ARTA) Manager Sustainable Transport said, “This research further confirms that Walking School Buses are a very healthy and safe way for children to get to and from school.

“For ARTA, Walking School Buses are about reducing car use, helping kids develop road safety skills, and working with local councils to make the roads safer for all pedestrians. And for the kids, it’s about friendship, fun and fitness.

“It’s encouraging to see how Walking School Buses are helping to change attitudes to active transport in the region. In challenging the accepted norm of driving to school, young walking bus members and adult volunteers are reducing traffic congestion and having fun at the same time,” said Ms Percy.

Over 3000 children and 1500 volunteer adults belong to Auckland’s 180 Walking School Buses. By comparison, a lane of motorway running at peak capacity will move 2500 people an hour.

The research profiled a sample of Auckland Walking School Buses. It was commissioned by ARTA and conducted by Dr Pat Neuwelt for the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand in June 2005.

ENDS



To get a copy of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand report:

Visit http://www.hpforum.org.nz.

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