Children's environmental health

Other environmental risks

urban traffic

Children, urbanization, physical activity and environmental health

Urbanization is one of the leading global trends of the 21st century that has a significant impact on health. It is estimated that over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, which may increase the risk of childhood injury or death from traffic accidents, as well as a child’s independent mobility and opportunities for physical activity. Urbanization is receiving increased attention by policymakers as a major environmental health hazard.

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Increasing levels of physical inactivity are seen worldwide, in high-income countries as well as low- and middle-income countries. Children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits. Enabling environments for physical activity are needed, such as safe public open and green spaces, including in and around schools.

Inter-sectoral cooperation on healthier cities and planned urbanization programs can promote healthy and sustainable transport alternatives that prevent the negative effects of transport patterns on human health (e.g. air pollution and obesity).