Enabling Healthy Living
Where we live plays a major role in our health. Community conditions can enhance or create barriers to health. Communities that are safe and provide opportunities for active living and healthy eating are needed to support people in developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles.
Health in All Policies Approach
We can create healthy social, economic, and physical environments through collaboration across multiple sectors, including transportation, housing, education, agriculture and others.
In order to achieve these healthy communities, residents need to feel safe when they leave their homes. Safe neighborhoods that are free of crime and violence are an integral component of healthy communities.
Healthy Communities Support Healthy Behaviors
Safe communities with opportunities for active living and healthy eating can impact two of the main contributors of chronic disease—diet and physical activity.
Health Happens in Communities
There is a strong connection between neighborhood and life expectancy. A person’s ZIP code is a powerful predictor of health, especially in those communities and populations experiencing the greatest health disparities.
Social Determinants of Health – Circumstances that Impact Health
The conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age influence health outcomes for entire populations.
Innovations in Healthy Communities
Check out creative ways that innovators in many organizations and communities are working to improve outcomes in Healthy Communities.
Creating Healthy Communities Indicators
Nearly one out of five Californians live in poverty.1
Poverty affects the ability to live a healthy life by limiting access to the basic necessities of housing, food, education, jobs, healthcare, and transportation. Low-income persons frequently live in under-resourced neighborhoods and are often exposed to unfavorable conditions that affect health across the life course. Children in poor families are at greater risk of growing up in environments that are harmful to their development, health, and prospects for a high-quality education. Poverty is associated with societal exclusion and higher prevalence of mental illness. People experiencing poverty are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, acute and chronic stress, and to die prematurely.2
There are many ways to measure poverty. The California Poverty Measure (CPM) tracks the percentage of residents living in poverty, taking into account income, cost of living, and social safety net services.
A stable job with fair pay leads to better health.1
Stable employment allows people to afford the goods and services that are necessary to meet basic needs and wellbeing. Economic opportunity, especially having a job, is one the most powerful predictors of good health.2 Unemployment, especially for people in or near poverty, is associated with higher rates of stress-related illnesses and increased mortality.3,4 These negative health outcomes affect not only the unemployed persons but can extend to their families. Longer unemployment can increase risk of these negative health effects.3
This indicator tracks the percentage of labor force who are unemployed.3
Access to fresh food is important for an active, healthy life.
Where we live has a major impact on our overall health status and wellness.1 Food security is defined as stable access to sufficient, affordable food for an active, healthy life.2 Food insecurity impacts all racial and ethnic groups and geographic regions of the state.
Communities with high concentrations of fast-food outlets and relatively high-priced convenience stores have been shown to have higher rates of obesity and diabetes, which can lead to other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and arthritis.3
Learn More » about Increasing Access to Healthy Food Outlets
Safe streets make communities healthier1
Increasing the amount of walking trips an individual makes can help meet recommended physical activity goals and improve fitness.2 Neighborhoods and workplaces should have the infrastructure to support those activities.6
This indicator shows the percent of individuals that walk to work.
This data is being presented as an alternative indicator for the original “Annual number of walk trips per capita” which was from a national survey that is no longer available. Exploration of additional data is underway to develop more comprehensive measures of walk trips per capita in California.
Make our communities healthy and violence-free
Community members cannot thrive or enjoy good health unless they are safe. Violence is a public health issue. Violence and fear of violence increase the risk of poor health outcomes and also undermine the community supports and conditions that would otherwise promote health and well-being.1
Violence in its many forms, such as child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, gang violence, and gun violence, is a leading cause of injury, disability, and premature death. It impacts the health of individuals, families, and communities, and can be a barrier to healthy eating and active living, community cohesion, and community economic development.2
Feeling unsafe may lead people to avoid walking, biking, or taking public transportation; have fewer interactions with neighbors; keep their children from playing outside; and, stay indoors rather than seek out goods and services they need such as groceries, or medical appointments.3 Safe communities that provide opportunities to be active and eat well support people in making healthy choices.
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