Turning great ideas into healthier communities


Roadmap to Improving Food and Physical Activity Environments: Tips and Tools for Community Change - 2nd Edition

2011 | Download

For a long time, strategies to prevent or reduce obesity and to increase healthy eating and physical activity have focused on individuals—teaching people about diet and exercise, encouraging them to change their habits and lifestyles.

But evidence shows that focusing only on people’s behavior won’t worknot when they live in environments that make changing their behavior difficult or even impossible. Teaching people to eat healthy and exercise is important, but often useless if they are faced with an environment that does not support these healthy behaviors. 

To change food and physical activity environments throughout a community takes broad-based partnership and collaboration, among residents, community organizations, public health departments, and schools. It requires engaging healthcare providers, elected officials and local businesses as well.

At the same time, small groups can make important changes that make a big difference, such as when a park is cleaned up, a field, playground, or walking path is built, and neighborhood families can now be active. Or a school sets up a farmers market, where students and their parents can easily buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and the market inspires healthy cooking projects in the school or after school programs. These local successes can inspire others, and can become part of broader community change, as groups meet and tackle larger projects together.

This guide includes examples, tips and lessons from the Healthy Eating, Active Communities (HEAC) program. It also includes success stories from HEAC, the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP) and from other California communities working to improve their community's food environments and opportunities for physical activity.

Download the guide. Also available in Spanish: Camino Hacia el Mejoramiento de los Ambientes Dedicados a la Alimentación y la Actividad Fí­sica

The Roadmap was developed as part of the Healthy Eating Active Communities program, funded by The California Endowment with support from Kaiser Permanente, Community Benefit Program.