Designing Healthy Communities is a multimedia project that highlights people and communities trying to balance health and nature with work, play, and life, and offers best practice solutions for all citizens. Stories and methodologies explored in Designing Healthy Communities point the way toward a healthy and sustainable future. The host of our series is Dr. Richard Jackson, pediatrician, former CDC head of environmental science, top public health official in California, and current UCLA Department Chair and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health. We met Dr. Jackson at one of the more than 150 lectures and papers he delivers annually. Dr. Jackson's message is compelling: over the past half century, the built environment has contributed to the alarming fact that almost two thirds of our population is overweight, suffering from diabetes, heart, asthma, depression and other chronic diseases. If we look upstream at the causes--obeisance to the automobile, lack of public transportation, parks, sidewalks, bike paths, multi-use housing, and community sense of well-being--we discover that the built environment threatens our future generations. Dr. Jackson believes that improving the design of our communities holds the potential for addressing many of the nation's current childhood and adult health concerns. Awareness, prevention, education, and community outreach on a national and local level can reduce the healthcare burden that now consumes almost a third of our national GDP. In cities, suburbs and rural areas across the country, community activists, politicians, socially responsible businesses and ordinary citizens are coming together to make their lives better by designing and retrofitting the places where they live.
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