OAKLAND, Calif., May 31 (UPI) -- Opening U.S. schools to the public for after-hours physical activity and play may help reduced obesity rates, researchers say.
Mariah Lafleur, Liz Schwarte and Rajni Banthia, all of Samuels & Associates in Oakland, Calif., said for this study, joint-use agreements were implemented in seven Los Angeles County school districts.
All seven districts had excessively high adult and child obesity rates, and all had executed a joint-use agreement between schools and community or government entities from January 2010 to December 2012.
The researchers observed 68 percent of the community members using the school facilities were participating in moderate or vigorous physical activity.
Observers recorded information for a total of 1,669 community members; nearly half were adults and almost all were non-white.
Researchers said they hoped the joint-use agreement would be adopted in multiple under-resourced communities where open space is limited and low incomes may prohibit people from being active.
The findings were published in Preventing Chronic Disease.