The Impact of the Built Environment on the Health of the Population

Over the past 150 years, clear connections have emerged between our health and the
environment in which we live. But it has not been until the last several decades that
research has been able to provide evidence of these connections. The evolution of the
profession of public health in North America has in large part been all about the
associations between health and the built and physical environment. Although many of
the issues have remained constant since the 1800’s, what is different is the nature of
the ailments and health conditions. From an emphasis on infectious and communicable
diseases in the early 19th century, the focus of health impacts associated with the built
environment in the 21st century is on chronic disease. Cancer, diabetes, respiratory
problems, obesity, cardiovascular disease – all of these highly prevalent diseases are
linked, in part, to the environment in which we live.



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