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  • Mumford KG, Contant CK, Weissman J, Wolf J, Glanz K, Changes in physical activity and travel behaviors in residents of a mixed-use development [PDF - 57 KB]. Am J Prev Med 2011;4(5):504-507.

    The CDC-funded study found that adults who move to a denser, mixed-use neighborhood increase their levels of walking for both recreation and transportation, decrease their automobile travel, and increase their use of public transportation.

  • The Effect of Light Rail Transit on Body Mass Index and Physical Activity. MacDonald J et al. Am J Prev Med 2010;39(2):105-112.

    The results of this CDC-funded study suggest that improving neighborhood environments and increasing the public's use of LRT systems could provide improvements in health outcomes for millions of individuals.

  • A Model Curriculum for a Course on the Built Environment and Public Health: Training for an Interdisciplinary Workforce [PDF - 105 KB]. Botchwey N, Hobson S, Dannenberg AL, Mumford KG, Contant CK, McMillan TE, Jackson RJ, Lopez R, Winkle C. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2009;36(2S):S63–S71.

    Faculty implementation of the proposed interdisciplinary model curriculum will help bridge the divide between the built environment and public health and enable both planners and public health professionals to value, create, and promote healthy environments.

  • Use of health impact assessment in the United States: 27 case studies, 1999-2007. Dannenberg AL, Bhatia R, Cole BL, Heaton SK, Feldman JD, Rutt CD. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008;34(3):241-56.

    Using multiple search strategies, 27 HIAs were identified that were completed in the U.S. during 1999 –2007. These completed HIAs are useful for helping conduct future HIAs and for training public health officials and others about HIAs. More work is needed to document the impact of HIAs and thereby increase their value in decision-making processes.

  • Investment in Safe Routes to School projects: public health benefits for the larger community. Watson M, Dannenberg AL. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2008;5(3):A90.

    The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is designed to encourage active and safe transportation for children to school. This report examines the potential broader impact of these programs on communities within 0.5 mile (0.8 km) of schools. Results suggest that SRTS projects in urban areas can improve the walking and bicycling environment for adults as well as for children, the target users. Investment in SRTS can contribute to increased physical activity among children and adults.

  • Designing and building healthy places for children [PDF - 242 KB].
    Wendel AM, Dannenberg AL, Frumkin H. International Journal of Environment and Health. 2008;2(3/4):338–55.

    The design and construction of the built environment have broad implications for the health of children. Healthy places should protect children from injury, pollutants and disease, provide children with a place to be physically active, play and experience nature, and promote a sustainable future. Health promotion can occur at all scales of the built environment, including buildings, communities and global infrastructure. The disabled, poor and other disadvantaged groups may benefit from built environment improvements. These improvements require partnerships among urban planners, engineers, architects, developers, public health practitioners and communities. Note: The findings and conclusion in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • The built environment, climate change, and health: opportunities for co-benefits. Younger M, Morrow-Almeida HR, Vindigni SM, Dannenberg AL. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008;35(5):517–26.

    The earth’s climate is changing, due largely to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity. These human-generated gases derive in part from aspects of the built environment such as transportation systems and infrastructure, building construction and operation, and land-use planning. Working across sectors to incorporate a health promotion approach in the design and development of built environment components may mitigate climate change, promote adaptation, and improve public health.

  • Urban Planning and Public Health at CDC
    Chris S. Kochtitzky, MSP; H. Frumkin, MD, DrPH; R. Rodriguez, MA; A.L. Dannenberg, MD; J. Rayman, MPH; K. Rose, MPA; R. Gillig, MCP; T. Kanter, MURP. MMWR. 2006; 55(SUP02);34-8.

    Urban planning and public health share common missions and perspectives. Both aim to improve human well-being, emphasize needs assessment and service delivery, manage complex social systems, focus at the population level, and rely on community-based participatory methods. Both fields focus on the needs of vulnerable populations. Integration of these fields is essential in restoring and enhancing the health and vitality of the nation's places and people.

  • Operational Definition of Walkable Neighborhood: Empirical and Theoretical Insights
    Anne Vernez Moudon, Chanam Lee et al. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2006, 3, Suppl 1, S99-S117.

    This CDC-funded article reviews theories defining neighborhoods and offers an empirical approach to identify measurable attributes and thresholds of walkable neighborhoods. The article finds that environmental attributes positively associated with walking sufficiently to meet health recommendations included higher residential density and smaller street-blocks around home, and shorter distances to food and daily retail facilities from home.

  • Land Use Planning for Public Health: The Role of Local Boards of Health in Community Design and Development [PDF - 309 KB]. Published by the National Association of Local Boards of Health

    This 2006 guide is designed for local board of health members and others interested in ensuring that their community’s land use planning decisions do not compromise the public’s health. Local boards of health are responsible for assuring the provision of adequate public health services in their communities, including protecting constituents from the many health risks associated with municipal design and development. The guide helps local board of health members promote healthy design choices and minimize or discourage designs that lead to adverse health outcomes.

  • Walking to Public Transit: Steps to Help Meet Physical Activity Recommendations [PDF - 137 KB]
    Lilah M. Besser, MSPH, and Andrew L. Dannenberg, MD, MPH. Am J Prev Med 2005;29(4):273–280.

    Nearly half of Americans do not meet the Surgeon General’s recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Some transit users may achieve 30 minutes of physical activity daily solely by walking to and from transit. This study estimates the total daily time spent walking to and from transit and the predictors of achieving 30 minutes of physical activity daily by doing so.

  • City and regional planning: a primer for public health officials. Malizia, Emil E. Dept. of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2005 May-June; 19 (5 Suppl):1-13.

    Recognizing that planners' decisions affect the public's health, some public health officials are becoming more involved in city and regional planning. This article describes city and regional planning fundamentals to help public health practitioners better understand plan making and plan implementation, including the development project review process; provides examples of how three local public health agencies are currently involved in planning; and discusses general strategies for such participation. With this information, public health officials could increase their influence on local planning with consequent public health benefits.

    To obtain a copy of article, please contact Dr. Emil Malizia at

  • On Closer Inspection: Learning to Look at the Whole Home Environment
    Angela Spivey. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 May;113(5):A320-3.

    This article discusses the development of a new holistic method of spotting and addressing housing hazards.

  • Indoor air pollutants: limited-resource households and child care facilities. J Environ Health. 2005 Mar;67(7):39-43, 61.

    This paper reports on a study of indoor air quality in homes and child care facilities in non-metropolitan counties of New York State.
  • The Relationship Between Housing and Health: Children at Risk
    Patrick Breysse, Nick Farr, Warren Galke, Bruce Lanphear, Rebecca Morley, Linda Bergofsky. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Nov;112(15):1583-8.

    In November 2002, the Naitonal Center for Healthy Housing convened a 2-day workshop focused on the effect of housing on children’s health and the translation of research findings into practical construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance. This article provides an overview suggesting that lack of consensus on standard measurements, incomplete understanding about the interaction of home hazards, inadequate research on the effectiveness of interventions, and insufficient political support limit current efforts to achieve health housing.

  • Reducing Nationwide Obesity Starts in Neighborhoods
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (July 3, 2003)

    These performance reports summarize the effectiveness of the Hearts N’ Parks program, an intervention developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), to reduce the growing trend of obesity and the risk of coronary heart disease in the United States. Links to the Hearts N’ Parks homepage and the full performance reports are included.

  • Healthy Environments
    Radio interview of Richard Joseph Jackson, MD, MPH, on the Paula Gordon Show (June 6, 2003)

    Listen to an interview with Richard Joseph Jackson, MD, MPH, former director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, about why healthy people require a healthy environment, on WGUN-AM 1010 in Atlanta.

  • Richard Joseph Jackson, MD, MPH, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, served as guest editor for the September 2003 issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH). This special issue featured new research on the effect of land use and community design on public health. Experts both from CDC and from a wide range of professional disciplines presented research articles, commentaries, and field action reports on how the design of the built environment affects physical activity, air and water quality, injuries, mental health, social capital, and environmental justice. Abstracts are available from the American Journal of Public Health. The September 2003 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion complements the AJPH special issue with articles that examine the relation between public health and community design.

  • Physical Activity Fundamental to Preventing Disease
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (June 20, 2002)

    This report details the link between physical activity and mental and physical health and provides an estimate of the national economic cost of inactivity. It discusses the relation between physical inactivity and the prevalence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and depression. The article concludes with a call for a more active lifestyle among the American people.

  • Urban Sprawl and Public Health [PDF - 491 KB]
    Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH. Public Health Rep 2002 May-June;117:201-17.

    This article discusses the relation between sprawl and health based on eight considerations: air pollution, heat, physical activity patterns, motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian injuries and fatalities, water quality and quantity, mental health, and social capital.

  • What Olmsted Knew
    Richard Joseph Jackson, MD, MPH. Western City 2002 May.

    Medicine will not be adequate to deal with the health challenges of the 21st century, not even with the help of the sequenced genome and advances in robotic surgery. Even though the United States spends one of every seven dollars on medical care, we will not significantly improve health and the quality of life unless we pay more attention to how we design our living environments. Healthy living environments include not just a clean and heated kitchen, bath, or bedroom but also the landscape around us. Health for all, especially for the young, aging, poor, and disabled, requires that we design healthfulness into our environments as well.

  • The Built Environment and Children's Health [PDF - 179 KB]
    Susan Kay Cummins, MD, MPH, FAAP, and Richard Joseph Jackson, MD, MPH

    The built environment embraces a wide range of concepts, from the design and integrity of housing, to land-use and urban planning. A high quality environment is essential for children to achieve optimal health and development. Building and land-use policies, including the quality and design of a child’s physical environment, can cause or prevent illness, disability and injury, and degrade or preserve natural resources. Although many common pediatric conditions such as obesity, asthma, and lead poisoning as well as injuries, are associated with risk factors within a child’s built environment this issue has received little attention from researchers or policymakers. This new field is ripe for etiologic and prevention research, and we need pediatric advocates to speak out for children’s needs within this arena.
    Note: Single copies of this article may be downloaded and printed only for personal research and study.

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