Building a City of Healthy People

This piece from Next American City looks at health in New York City, and why the city's new health commissioner is looking at elevators, escalators and other subtleties of the built environment.

The city is releasing a new document called the Active Design Guidelines, which seeks to improve public health through the built environment.

"Musings about elevators by the health department may sound weird, but so too is the problem: Today the majority of adults and nearly half of the elementary school children in New York City are overweight or obese. And the underlying causes of obesity – physical inactivity and unhealthy diet – are, after tobacco, the leading causes of New York's premature deaths, disproportionately affecting the city's black and Latino communities.

New York may be America's thinnest city, where cars are becoming as passe as smoking, thanks to healthy doses of density, public transit, open space and, increasingly, bike lanes. But only a quarter of city residents get regular exercise, Farley estimated. 'This is a great city for moving around,' says David Burney, the city's commissioner of design and construction. 'But we have a lot of opportunities for improvement. There's a conspiracy of small things we're doing that can make the city better.'"

Full Story: The Architecture of Healthiness

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