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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Healthy Places for Everyone

What is health? Is it just the absence of disease? The World Health Organization takes a much broader view. WHO says "health" is a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being. And for people to be healthy, their communities also must be healthy. A healthy community is one that is constantly creating and improving its physical and social environment, supports its residents, and generally creates conditions where people can develop to their fullest potential (see U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health People 2010). So how do you know if you live in a healthy place? Healthy places are designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, learn, and play within its borders – where making the healthy choice is the easy choice.

Design for people Addressing good food
The way in which we build our cities has an immense impact on the decisions we make in our daily lives. Those decisions can have a dramatic impact on our long term health. If neighborhoods are designed to encourage healthy personal choices it has the ability to enhance the health of the community. Healthy food is essential to promoting good health. Several local efforts and many nationally are aiming to make it easier to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Addressing climate change Children and youth
Climate change will negatively affect human health. Impacts include thermal stress, poor air quality, the spread of infectious disease, more severe extreme weather events, and increased social and psychological health impacts on vulnerable populations. Children need safe places to live, play and go to school in order to be healthy and active. Many early behaviors set the stage for health later in life, therefore it is essential to protect and inform our youth.
Places to be active Health equity
People need physical activity in order to be healthy. We all need places where we have easy access to safe and fun places to walk, bicycle, and play. In February 2008, King County launched the Equity & Social Justice Initiative, to eliminate long-standing and persistent inequities and social injustices in King County.
Healthy homes Clean air
Living in a safe and healthy home can reduce your risk of injury and diseases, like asthma. Currently there are many homes that do not meet this standard. In addition, home renovations can increase risks of contamination. Clean air is important for promoting respiratory health by providing healthy indoor and outdoor places. Driving less and planting trees are a couple of ways that we can help to keep our air healthy.
Noise reduction Clean water
Having a quiet environment to live, work, and play in is important for our health and well being. Community noise can influence the experience of residents of and visitors to an area. Land use planning can help to place buildings such as schools and retirement centers further from noise sources, separate roads from homes and schools with open space, and restrict noise levels at night. The United States enjoys one of the best supplies of drinking water in the world. Public Health Seattle-King County helps ensure that King County has safe and clean drinking water for all.

Public Health resources

King County Board of Health Guidelines: Planning for Healthy Communities
  • King County Board of Health Guidelines: Planning for Healthy Communities (PDF)
    By working together, urban planning and public health professionals can create a smarter, healthier city environment for everyone. This document details how strategic initiatives can lead to thriving healthy communities in King County.

  • Healthy Places terminology guide

  • 2006 Health of King County Report
    Chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic lung diseases (including asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis) and diabetes are the largest contributors to ill health in King County. Cancer, heart disease and stroke alone account for more than half (56%) of all deaths. Asthma affects 9% of adults and 6% of children.

  • Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW)
    Public Health - Seattle & King County has been awarded two highly-competitive federal grants totaling $25.5 million over two years to address obesity and tobacco use.

  • Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity
    In the United States, 16.3 percent of children and adolescents between the ages of two and 19 are obese. The prevalence of obesity is so high that it may reduce the life expectancy of today's generation of children and diminish the overall quality of their lives.

  • Community health data
    A set of indicators measuring the health of King County residents. It provides a broad array of comprehensive, population-based data with the emphasis on relying on data about the entire community to look at multiple determinants of health.