The Let's Move Initiative should consider the power of playgrounds for combating the childhood obesity crisis.

A nearly free resource in the obesity crisis is the local school or park playground according to a study released by the Rand Research Corporation.

Girls who do not live within a half-mile radius of a school playground that is accessible when school is not in session have a 3-percent higher body mass index than girls who do have playgrounds within a half mile of where they live. Each additional open playground resulted in further weight decrease, according to a study of 1,556 sixth-grade girls in six metropolitan areas by the RAND Corp. appearing in the May volume of the journal Preventive Medicine.

That means that an average-weight 5-foot-tall girl in Louisiana would weigh about 3.2 pounds less for every open school playground in her neighborhood.

"We think there's an opportunity to use schools as a means of intervention," study author Molly Scott, a research analyst at RAND, told United Press International.

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ABSTRACT : Weekend schoolyard accessibility, physical activity, and obesity: The Trial of Activity in Adolescent Girls (TAAG) study