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The Prevalence of Play Deserts

A new study analyzing the amenities in 165 parks in the four-county Kansas City metro region found that low-income neighborhoods suffer from a lack of play spaces, despite having more parks per capita, reports Emily Badger.
March 25, 2013, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Low-income, minority neighborhoods in cities are often heavily disinvested places, with less money spent there on road repair, civic infrastructure or cultural projects than in other parts of town," notes Badger. "This pattern, it appears, may even extend to public parks, with the result that the children who need exercise the most may be less enticed to get it."

According to Badger, the recent study, published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, found that parks located in low-income areas of the Kansas City metro region "were less likely to have aesthetic features like decorative landscaping, trails and playgrounds." What are the implications of this inequity?

As the authors explain:

These findings are problematic because playgrounds have been shown to promote increased [physical activity] intensity and healthier weight status among children. Areas of low [socioeconomic status] are perhaps the neighborhoods that need playgrounds the most due to the increased likelihood of those areas having a higher prevalence of youth who are overweight or obese.

Full Story:
Published on Monday, March 25, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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