Childhood overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions, with nearly one out of every three children in the United States being affected. That factors in the built environment are closely correlated to childhood obesity has become increasingly evident. Negative built-environment factors disproportionately affect poor and minority children. This article examines the current research on the state of childhood overweight and obesity and surveys the built-environment factors that have been linked to the problem. Analyzing the built environment from a legal perspective, this article identifies how zoning, legislation, public/private partnerships, and contracts are being used at the local, state, and federal levels to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Using these tools, local, state, and federal government agencies are increasing access to healthy food, decreasing the density of unhealthy food sources, and increasing physical activity resources for children. Whereas some of the programs are geared toward minority and low-income children, many apply to children across the socioeconomic and demographic spectrum.
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