Health and Urban Planning: Looking at the Let’s Move Campaign

The one thing that I took away from yesterday’s so-called “Snowpocalypse” is that I wish I lived in a walkable neighborhood. Though my home was sufficiently stocked up with all the necessary amenities, and, thankfully, I wasn’t one of the many households that had to deal with a power outage, it still would have been nice to walk to local coffeeshop to hang out with the rest of the neighbors (I heard that some Allentown residents did this at Brew Works).

Needless to say, good urban design is key – especially when you’re stuck in a snowstorm.

On this point – urban design – I was under the impression that the new federal “Let’s Move” campaign (launched yesterday), spearheaded by Michelle Obama, would have included some ties to land-use and urban planning. And I’m not alone in my impression. Megan from The City Fix was also expecting this, but just like me, she was surprised that there was not much explicit focus on this matter within the campaign. She writes:

There have been brief mentions of “small changes” families can take to encourage their children to be more active, including walking to school and urban farming. During her launch remarks, Mrs. Obama acknowledged that “urban sprawl and fears about safety often mean the only walking [kids] do is out their front door to a bus or a car.”


However, all of these “small changes” related to designing better cities and providing better transportation are far from central in the “Let’s Move” campaign.

Indeed, given my brief research on public health, it seems that this component (land design) should have a bigger role in this campaign. What are your thoughts on this?

About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on February 11, 2010, in Education, Health, Public Infrastructure, Transportation, Urbanism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Tracy Yenolevich

    Absolutely Beata! I recently wrote a paper looking at urban sprawl and public health in the Lehigh Valley. I used the book listed below as a resource and it was phenomenal at making the connection between land use and public health explicit. The lack of land use components in Michelles campaign is disappointing.

    Urban Sprawl and Public Health: Designing, Planning, and Building for Healthy Communities, by Howard Frumkin, Lawrence Frank, Richard Joseph Jackson.

  2. Beata, move to a walkable neighborhood at your earliest convenience! It’s so much more fun, healthy and dynamic. We have a huge impact on the world as a result of our individual decisions. People move all of the time. Do it now!

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