New Playgrounds Equal Plus-Size Kids?

Jules's picture

Look mom! No kids!Obesity in preschoolers stems from the same causes as in adults: Eating too much, not moving enough...

Last month, Robin, my 16-year-old, found an "awesome" park on her way home from the dentist. "It had REAL swings, mom!" (You know and I know they're too old to play at the park, but the three teens had a blast!)

At most playgrounds, the steep, "cool," long metal slides -- pure torture during the hot Okanogan Highland summers -- have been replaced with low sliding boards. The monkey bars, where kids dangle upside down at the pinacle, are gone. A plastic climber and fenced-in platform stands in its spot.

Over the years, Robin has vocally and emphatically found the safety enhanced playground equipment increasingly boring. Since she's growing up, that's to be expected, right? Well, a recent study confirmed her analysis -- it's spot on.

The older playground equipment resulted in injuries. Safety standards fix that. Are you ready for the unexpected result. Safer might not mean healthier. A recent study suggests that safe equipment results in unenthused, less active kids. While safe, those playgrounds just aren't fun.

A friend of mine agrees. At least her kids do. Even the two-year-old found the new playground babyish. Platforms lead to nowhere, climbers are short and slides are slow. Kids easily master the equipment and soon lose interest.

With increasingly inactive kids and a growing childhood obesity epidemic, the study authors say it's time to start balancing safety concerns with the need for vigorous, stimulating play. What do you think?

About the study: Dr. Kristen Copeland, "'Safety-First' Playgrounds Linked to Bored, Inactive Kids." The study, appeared online Jan. 4, 2012 and in the February issue of Pediatrics.