How Where You Live Impacts Your Health

How Where You Live Impacts Your Health


Where we live can have a profound effect on our health and well-being. From access to healthy food and green spaces to economic opportunities, community support, and exposure to pollution, our zip code shapes our health in many ways.

Access to Healthy Food Options

Those living in food deserts, or areas lacking grocery stores with fresh produce, often rely on processed and unhealthy foods from convenience stores and fast food chains. This can contribute to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses. Creating community gardens, bringing farmers markets to underserved areas, and incentivizing supermarkets to open in food deserts can help.

Exposure to Green Spaces

Nearby parks, forests, and nature trails provide opportunities for physical activity, social connection, stress reduction and mental health benefits. Urban planning focused on walkability, bike lanes, community gardens and access to parks for all neighborhoods can have far reaching positive impacts.

Economic Stability

Poverty, unemployment, lack of education and opportunity can negatively impact health in many ways. Ensuring access to living wage jobs, affordable housing, high quality education and job training helps create the foundation for wellbeing.

Social Connection and Support

Feeling connected with others and having a strong support network contributes to better mental and physical health. Building inclusive communities that support civic participation, volunteerism and community events can foster this.

Exposure to Pollution

Those living near busy roadways, factories, waste sites or other sources of toxic pollutants face higher risks of respiratory illnesses, cancers and other diseases. Strict environmental regulations, transitioning to clean energy, and creating buffer zones between residential areas and pollution sources can reduce risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some ways our neighborhood impacts health?

Access to groceries and healthy food options, green spaces, economic opportunities, social connections and pollution levels can all shape health.

How does food access affect health?

Inadequate access to affordable nutritious foods can lead to poor diet and higher rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases.

What are the health benefits of parks and nature?

Nearby nature is linked to more physical activity, better air quality, opportunities for social connection, reduced stress and improved mental health.

How can city planning help health?

Urban design focused on walkability/bikeability, access to public transit, community gardens, nature trails and green spaces encourages healthy behaviors.

What are health impacts of poverty and lack of opportunity?

Poverty and unemployment are tied to increased risk for chronic illness, mental health challenges, lower life expectancy and other issues.