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What Makes a Neighborhood Healthy?


It is unreasonable to expect that people will change their behavior so easily when so many forces in the social, cultural, and physical environment conspire against change.

If successful programs are to be developed to prevent disease and improve health, attention must be given not only to the behavior of individuals, but also to the environmental context within which people live.- Institute of Medicine

Healthy neighborhoods provide:

  • Places where walking and bicycling are safe and convenient and where residents of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to be physically active.
  • Nutritious, fresh, culturally appropriate food – grown locally whenever possible – is affordable and accessible, promoting health and boosting the local economy.
  • Residents aren’t exposed to environmental hazards or pollutants that endanger their present or future health or well-being.

ILG’s Healthy Neighborhoods website provides current, relevant resources to aid in adapting general policies and strategies to reverse the negative trends related to physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and environmental hazards.

Resources to Support Your Efforts

  • NACO Healthy Counties Database Search a database of policies, programs and initiatives organized by topic area that counties across the nation are using to promote wellness and prevent childhood obesity.
  • NCSL Healthy Community Design and Access to Healthy Food Legislation Database Past and current state legislation organized by bill type, year, state and topic complete with bill summary, author, and status.
  • ENACT local nutrition and physical activity policy database The Environmental Nutrition and Activity Community Tool (ENACT) and searchable policy database contains model policies from around the nation and provides a brief description of each policy, contact information, and health implications of the policy.
  • NACO Healthy Counties Program The National Association of Counties’ Healthy Counties Program provides training, education, and resource tools to support officials in taking a leadership role in improving community health.
  • Rural Obesity: Strategies to Support Rural Counties in Building Capacity A description of NACO’s Rural Obesity Initiative, a presentation of the lessons learned from the project, as well as a description of the unique nature of obesity in rural America and the challenges of implementing commonly promoted policies and practices in these areas.
  • Promising Strategies for Creating Healthy Eating and Active Living Environments This document provides a comprehensive and cross-cutting review of policy, strategy, and program recommendations to realize the vision of healthy people in healthy places.
  • Healthy Community Design, LEED ND and Healthy Neighborhoods LEED-ND is a rating system in collaboration among the U.S. Green Building Council, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. LEED-ND encourages neighborhood development projects that protect and enhance the overall health, natural environment, and quality of life of communities and promotes the location and design of neighborhoods that reduce auto dependence by providing jobs and services that are accessible by foot, bicycle or public transit.
  • Community Design: A Toolkit for Building Physical Activity in to Daily Life This toolkit organizes tools and strategies through a framework of nine principles for community design that increase physical activity, informed by four key environmental features correlated with active transportation (density, street pattern, mixed use, and pedestrian infrastructure).


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