Children and their families today need a prescription from pediatricians, not for medicine but for the health and well-being that can only happen when they head outdoors to connect with nature, according to Richard Louv, who delivered the keynote address Oct. 2 at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition.

Over the past several generations, children have been connecting less with the outdoors and spending more time on electronic media, said Louv, co-founder and chairman of the Children & Nature Network and author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Concurrently, obesity is on the rise, he said.

Fear by parents — in the form of stranger danger and parents’ own discomfort with nature itself — are key contributors to “nature deficit disorder,” a condition Louv is quick to note is not an official diagnosis. “But it soon may be,” he said.

“We have to...

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