The Impact of the Built Environment on Physical Activity, Diet, and Body Weight: Summary

The built environment has an influence on lifestyle and body weight

Physical activity is promoted through:

  • More walkable neighbourhoods
  • The presence of sidewalks, walking paths, and bike paths
  • A substantial presence of recreational and sports infrastructure including parks, pools, playgrounds, and sports clubs.

Healthy eating is promoted through:

  • Having easy access to food retailers that are located close to homes and that offer healthy foods at affordable prices.

The environment as the target of healthy public policy

Several health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and Kino-Québec have identified the built environment as one of the targets for significant action to address weight-related problems in our societies and recommend:

  • Promoting active transportation
  • Promoting density and mixed land use
  • Improving access to sports facilities and infrastructure
  • Increasing the availability of quality foods offered in under-served neighbourhoods.
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