How the Built Environment Became a Leading Cause of Death in the 21st Century

Writing for the Well blog, Jane Brody traces the direct link between 20th century development patterns and the leading causes of disease and death. Put simply, public health is the biggest challenge facing planners today.
February 1, 2012, 10am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In laying out the many health problems that are directly connected to our patterns of development and the way many Americans live today, Brody recounts the sea change that has occurred in the public health profession over the last decade. "At a meeting of the American Public Health Association in October, Dr. [Richard] Jackson said, there were about 300 presentations on how the built environment inhibits or fosters the ability to be physically active and get healthy food."

Working at the front lines in treating the ill effects of our built environment and the lifestyles it encourages, public health professions have produced a "plethora of research reports demonstrating the ill effects of current community structures." Now it is up to planners to utilize the preventative tools at their disposal to deign communities in a way that allows and encourages healthy living.

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Published on Monday, January 30, 2012 in The New York Times
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