Spatial Planning and Community Development for Healthier Diets

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Learning Outcomes

  • Consider the rationale for and appraise complementary regulatory, commercial, and urban development levers used by public bodies and real estate agencies to create healthier food environments across community settings.
  • Articulate the balance of costs versus benefits to society, economies, and health services of interventions that promote access to healthier food environments to uplift the community health equity.
  • Adopt appropriate planning and community development solutions, using partnerships that incorporate public health, real estate, and public engagement techniques to address community food-access needs and inequalities.

Course Details

Food environments provide opportunities to purchase food from various locations, including grocery stores and fast-food outlets. Greater access to food outlets has been associated with higher consumption of less-healthy food. Greater and more frequent consumption of fast food is associated with poorer health, resulting in societal costs.

The APA Trend Report recognized the rapid food-retail transformation underway before the COVID-19 pandemic. Interactions with food environments were reportedly changing, with digital-platform food purchasing becoming increasingly popular. The pandemic accelerated underlying food-system transformations, meaning the digitalization of food access is becoming an important public health challenge for planners that coincides with the decline of Main Street. On the positive side, this transformation was accompanied by a shift toward localized food production associated with food-led commercial and housing-regeneration projects.

Case studies showcase novel research, practice evidence, and approaches that illuminate interplay among the digital-app food environment, communities, and community food-growing opportunities. Presenters explore opportunities to create healthier food environments by combining regulatory and development partnership approaches. Participants obtain the knowledge needed to address public health and economic challenges and promote a shift toward healthier food access.