The built environment is a significant contributor to community health – a fact that researchers, planners, public health practitioners, and advocates around the country are becoming increasingly aware of. We know, for example, that people who live in more “walkable” communities are in fact more likely to walk. Research has demonstrated that living near a grocery store increases consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Children who live near freeways may suffer from respiratory problems for the rest of their lives. These facts should be particularly important in shaping land use decisions as we face rising costs from the obesity epidemic and other chronic diseases.
This leaves public health advocates wondering just how best to dig into the world of planning.