Built environments and systems can be effectively designed to increase access to opportunities for health

Built Environment

The physical environment around us directly affects our health, well being and quality of life.

The built environment is the physical environment of communities, including:
• land-use patterns: how land is used
• large and small built and natural features including architecture, quality of landscape, sidewalks and parks
• transportation systems including trails and roads

Together these elements shape access to opportunities for health.

Recent US data on childhood obesity link how we design and invest in our physical environment (roads, sidewalks, parks, public spaces) with unhealthy body weights. Gopal Singh, an epidemiologist with the US Health Resources and Services Administration, "found that a child living in a neighborhood with unsafe surroundings, poor housing and no access to sidewalks, parks and recreation centers had 20 to 60 percent higher odds of being obese or overweight.

"Experts blame the rise in childhood obesity on fast food, neighborhoods without sidewalks, television, video games, schools neglecting physical education and a host of other societal changes."
~ Dr. Joe Thompson, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Contact PAN-RC if you would like to be a part of the Built Environment Working Group.

Use the comment form below to share how your community could or has effectively used built environments to increase access to health options.