California Active Communities (CAC) located within the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) supports and promotes community design solutions to increase physical activity and decrease the risk for chronic disease such as obesity and diabetes. . In 2004, CAC established the LPHBE Network Project to provide training, technical assistance and funding to local public health departments (LPHDs) interested in integrating public health into community design. In 2009, CAC received funding from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO) to promote the use of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) among the state’s LPHDs.
In 2007, fifty-nine percent of Californians were overweight or obese. Half of the population did not participate in moderate physical activity (for 30 minutes or more) five days a week or vigorous physical activity (for 20 minutes or more) three days a week. In urban neighborhoods, there are often few opportunities for safe physical activity and limited access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. In rural communities and suburbs, many people must drive long distances to school, work, and retail areas, leaving limited prospects to integrate active living into busy schedules. Additionally, those miles driven by car contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and noise pollution. The LPHBE Network Project assists local health department staff in creating communities where physical activity, healthy food, and safe environments are “built” into residents lives.
In 2004, CAC utilized CDC Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant funding to establish the LPHBE Network Project. The Project uses educational trainings, teleconferences with state and national experts, local workshops, and community-wide activities to:
- Raise awareness among local public health professionals on the importance of integrating public health into community design;
- Develop a cadre of local public health department staff with content expertise in land use and transportation planning and the use of Health Impact Assessments (HIA);
- Enable local public health practitioners to participate in discussions about community design;
- Encourage bicycle-friendly, walkable streets, cleaner air, efficient public transit, and support accessibility to healthy foods in California’s communities.
- Los Angeles County Public Health Department launched the Policies for Livable Active Communities and Environments Program (PLACE), which has a $1.5 million budget to support community grants.
- Humboldt County Department of Public Health received a grant to conduct a rural Health Impact Assessment of county growth scenarios.
- Sacramento County sought public health input for the county general plan.
- Riverside County hosted targeted workshops (e.g., Emergency Response and Street Design), convened a Designing Healthy Communities Forum, commented on new county development, and conducted numerous walk audits county-wide.
- Shasta County Public Health Department developed a Healthy Development Tool for use by local planners.
In each of these examples, community land use and transportation planners and local public health practitioners worked together to promote communities that meet planner goals for efficient transportation and greenhouse gas reduction, while also promoting healthy lifestyles.
In 2009, CDPH and CAC received funding from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO) to promote the use of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) among the state’s local public health departments (LPHDs). The success of the Department’s LPHBE Network Project laid the foundation for CDPH’s HIA efforts and assisted CAC in receiving the ASTHO grant.
Since its inception, the CA HIA Project has provided training, technical assistance and mini-grants to California’s state and local public health departments (LPHDs). LPHDs have effectively leveraged CA HIA Project participation into continuing activities; examples include:
- Promote use of the health impact assessment in California’s communities to evaluate plans, projects, and policies that can influence health.
- Offer a series of webinars to educate and inform LPHDs on the implementation of HIAs.
- Develop applications for further grant monies to conduct additional HIAs.
- Created a cadre of trained HIA practitioners within the California Department of Public Health.
- Created a cadre of trained HIA practitioners within California’s LPHDs .
- Funded several county HIA projects including an assessmentof alcohol outlet density in Mendocino County.
For more information about the LPHBE Network Project and CA HIA Project please contact Lisa Cirill, Chief, California Active Communities at Lisa.Cirill@cdph.ca.gov or 916-552-9943.