The world has changed in less than a lifetime. Let me explain. When I was a kid in the 1970's our world was only limited by how far we could ride our bikes in a single day. That often meant riding miles and miles away from our houses. Yet a long distance phone call was far too expensive to make for anything other than the most important reasons.

Today our kids can visit just about any place on the globe and have conversations with others thousands of miles away. They can go just about anywhere with a simple click of a computer mouse. However, we don't want them leaving the front yard.

There is a direct correlation between childhood obesity and exercise. When I was a kid we weren't as fat because our parents encouraged us to play outside. Today's moms and dads have very real concerns about their children and their safety when it comes to playing outside the home.

Let's be real, if you live in a nice neighborhood and you know your neighbors this isn't as big of a concern as if you lived in a neighborhood where sometimes suspicious activity occurs.

We determined that children living in those neighborhoods that were unsafe were actually more overweight and not only that, had higher risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

I don't think any of us are surprised at those comments made by LSU Health New Orleans Research Professor Dr. Melinda Sothern. In speaking to the Louisiana Radio Network Dr. Sothern went on to say that one problem is exacerbating another problem.

She suggested the solution will have to come from parents. Parents who understand that the lack of a safe place for their kids to play is actually detrimental to the health of their children. She recommends that parents make this an issue before policy makers in their community.

It is challenging but it is a priority. And as I often say, outdoor play is not an option, it is essential for proper mental, physical, and emotional health.


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