There is growing recognition that creating healthy places for people to live, work, and play is essential to supporting a healthy and active lifestyle. Without a healthy living environment, people are more likely to suffer from obesity or one of the many other chronic diseases confronting the United States including diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. People need environments that are structured to help them access healthy food options and easily incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Prevention Institute produced this report to provide a comprehensive review of policy, strategy, and program recommendations to create healthy eating and physically active environments. The report is designed to serve as a catalyst for further discussions among government officials, advocates, planners and community leaders and how they can create healthy living environments in their own communities.
This report outlines ten key strategies for transforming communities into healthy living environments that make healthy food options attainable and physical activity accessible. These strategies are based on interviews and conversations with diverse groups of stakeholders and constituents engaged in supporting the movement for healthy communities. These groups represent various perspectives of community life including public health, economic development, transportation, sustainable food systems, planning and education, among others. In addition, these strategies reflect the opinions of experts and practitioners in the field who were interviewed and asked to identify the strategies they considered to be most relevant, practical, and promising for creating healthy living environments.
Strategies to promote healthy living environments include:
- Ensure neighborhoods are designed to foster physical activity by embracing smart growth techniques, focusing on community connectivity, supporting the creation and maintenance of community parks, and providing safe and adequate pedestrian infrastructure and bicycle trails.
- Work to provide fresh, local, and healthy foods that are available and affordable for all community members by offer incentives to grocers, schools, and other community institutions for providing locally and regionally grown healthy foods.
- Provide incentives for workplaces and schools that promote access to healthy foods and beverages and allow opportunities for physical activity throughout the day.
How to Use
Government officials, local leaders, planners, and policymakers should use the strategies outlined in this report as a framework for transforming their communities into healthy living environments that facilitate healthy eating and physical activity. The list of strategies and approaches featured in this report is a great starting point for any community looking to improve the overall health and well-being of its residents.