The impact of the built environment on health is well documented. Historically the whole field of public health emerged from the need to tackle health problems associated with housing, sanitation and the rapid development of towns and cities from the 18th Century on. These issues were effectively tackled by public health practitioners working closely with the civil engineers, planners, architects and other disciplines evolving from the newly formed civic authorities of the time.
However, the health issues during most of that period were related to infectious diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Recent history has moved the focus onto newly emerging non-communicable chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and the role of the built environment and those associated with its planning and construction are every bit as important as they were in tackling the earlier problems.
The rapid increase in obesity levels and the evident association with these chronic diseases has again focussed attention on the role of the environment on both health behaviour and health outcomes in which of course, the built environment is a key determinant.
Beyond the immediate impacts of physical activity and accessing healthy food however, there is a developing evidence base and range of actions and ideas relating to other health related impacts of the built environment including those on mental health & wellbeing, perceptions of safety, access for vulnerable groups and industrial pollution.
Cartoon Corner: The Built Environment Puzzle
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