(Brownson et al., 2005; IOM, 2005; Sallis and Glanz, 2006). Relevant features of the built environment include land use patterns and the paths, roads, and other means of transport that link one location with another. Additionally, the built environment encompasses the way in which the interiors of buildings are structured to accommodate or necessitate movement, as well as the structure of the community food environment, which plays a role in determining access to fruits, vegetables, and other foods and beverages that contribute to a healthful diet (Brownson et al., 2006; Gordon-Larsen et al., 2006; Handy et al., 2002; Kahn et al., 2002; TRB and IOM, 2005; Zimring et al., 2005).
Local zoning boards, city planning commissions, capital improvement committees, and many other entities are involved in decisions regarding land use, transportation, building development, and the locations of sidewalks and bicycle and pedestrian paths (TRB and IOM, 2005). Organizations and movements such as Smart Growth and New Urbanism work to facilitate and implement active travel, livable and sustainable communities, mixed land use (e.g., residential, office, and retail space), and the preservation of open space (New Urbanism, 2006; Smart Growth Network, 2003). Latino New Urbanism (2006) is a recent outgrowth of these efforts and involves the consideration of Latino culture in the development of urban properties and land use plans.
Communities are becoming more aware of the need to enhance healthy lifestyles for children and youth by offering safe and attractive places in neighborhoods for recreation and play and by promoting active travel. Numerous issues related to the built environment are particularly important for populations at high risk for obesity. In addition, in many locales, fewer recreational facilities are present in low-income neighborhoods than in more affluent areas (Cradock et al., 2005; Sallis and Glanz, 2006). It is thus important to identify the extent of the disparities in access to opportunities for physical activity so that these issues can be addressed. For example, in Boston, Massachusetts, the nonprofit organization Play Across Boston conducted a needs assessment with funding from CDC, that involved a census of the public recreational facilities, as well as the collection of data on the physical activity programs available to children and youth outside of school hours (Hannon et al., 2006). Combining this information with household income and population census data provided insights into the areas where recreational opportunities needed to be enhanced.
Many communities are expanding and improving their playground and gymnasium facilities; adding and restoring walking and biking trails; taking pedestrian issues into consideration when they plan for new road construc-