The American Planning Association (APA) Healthy Communities Policy Guide identifies policy ideas for local, state, and federally elected officials aimed at improving community health and quality of living through planning. APA believes “healthy communities” are places where all individuals have access to healthy built, social, economic, and natural environments that give them the opportunity to live their fullest potential regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, income, age, abilities, or other socially defined circumstance.
The conditions in which people live, work, and age have a greater role in a community’s health than individual behaviors and clinical care. Planners and policy makers influence these determinants of health through decisions such as, land use, urban design, and transportation, which affect local air quality, water quality and supply, transportation safety, and access to physical activity, healthy food, and affordable housing, among many other quality of life indicators.
The Healthy Communities Policy Guide addresses challenges derived from our built, social, and natural environment, provides recommendations for policies to address the social determinants of health by improving opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy food, which enables numerous social equity benefits, and helps policy makers at all levels of government better integrate health considerations into planning processes and outcomes.
Planning for health requires government at all levels to address determinants of chronic disease early by integrating health considerations in planning. View and share this guide with your local policymakers.