My how we've grown. Nearly 65 percent of Americans are overweight and 31 percent are considered obese. Those numbers have been skyrocketing, while simultaneously a wave of serious health concerns has surfaced due to the related increases in both inactivity and obesity: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, even several types of cancer. The health care costs directly attributable to obesity are enormous, estimated at an eye-popping $75 billion by the Centers for Disease Control in 2003 alone. Health problems, lost productivity, early deaths, medical costs: it all adds up to a very heavy toll on America. Several culprits can be identified, though none is singularly responsible. It is the physical activity side of the equation that is the topic of this series of case studies produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 2004.
There are endless ways to address the problem, and thankfully, many communities are trying to find solutions. This publication is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather is a sampling, intended to showcase a variety of approaches to encourage physical activity that can spark ideas in communities across the country. The 10 case studies show that a wide variety of approaches can lead to the desired effect. Perhaps one of these case studies can be replicated in your community.