Saturday, March 24, 2007

Health and the Built Environment

From Science Magazine
The second example is more contemporary. Public health leaders are asserting--as had leaders 150 years earlier--that the built environment profoundly influences health. The focus this time is not urban tenements, but rather the fragmented and sprawling communities that foster car dependency, inactivity, obesity, loneliness, fossil fuel and resource consumption, and environmental pollution. Concern about the built environment's effects on health has caught fire, with joint health and urban-planning conferences and strategy sessions, pending legislation, and an increasing number of new scientific studies. Disciplines long estranged from health issues--planners and architects, environmentalists, even builders and developers--are becoming engaged. It's a good time to spread ownership of health and environment challenges. The challenges of the 21st century will require leadership and collaboration. It worked in the 19th century; it can work today.

This is an interesting take on the impact of the modern social/built environment, how they are interrelated, and the impact that their current structure has on health.

Here is a resource (The Prevention Institute) on actions taken with regard to the built environment and health and what the impact has been

There is growing recognition that the built environment -- the man-made physical structures and infrastructure of communities -- has an impact on our health. Through a series of program profiles, this project highlights examples of neighborhood-level successes in altering elements of the built environment to improve health behaviors and outcomes. Because low-income communities are more likely to be sites of hazards and less likely to be conducive to physical activity and healthy eating, profiles focus on interventions that have occurred in low-income communities and are most likely to contribute to reducing health disparities in the United States.
This is a fascinating area of research and activity. The actions of citizens and government today could well transform the built infrastructure of the nation. Possibly improving our health and repairing what I consider the broken foundation of community involvement and local and national identity.

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