2013 - Research

Public Health and the Green Building Industry: Partnership Opportunities for Childhood Obesity Prevention

This special review article touches on a number of key built environment issues leveraged by the Safe Routes to School program to improve childhood health and prevent obesity. 

  • Improving the design of the built environment to promote health and well-being is an emerging priority within public health, particularly as a component of efforts to address the ongoing epidemic of childhood obesity.
  • Research suggests that environmental design at multiple spatial scales, ranging from regional land use and transportation planning, to accessibility of public transit, to building characteristics such as stair placement, and even the design of food trays in contexts such as school cafeterias, can influence dietary choices and physical activity.
  • Moreover, because the built environment is amenable to change, the environmental design process provides a tangible mechanism for influencing health-related social norms at a population level. This advantage is critical, given growing consensus that individual-level interventions will not be sufficient to reverse the growth in the prevalence of childhood obesity.

Trowbridge, Matthew MD, MPH. Terry T.-K. Huang, PhD, MPH. Nisha D. Botchwey, PhD, MCRP, MPH. Thomas R. Fisher, MA. Chris Pyke, PhD. Anne B. Rodgers, BA. Rachel Ballard-Barbash, MD, MPH. (2013). Public Health and the Green Building Industry: Partnership Opportunities for Childhood Obesity Prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(5), 489-495.