The USDA Economic Research Service’s Food Environment Atlas and Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America provide a wealth of data on health issues and determinants (causes). Boasting an easy-to use interface the Food Environment Atlas deals with a very wide range of issues including grocery store access, restaurant expenditures, food assistance, food insecurity, food prices, local foods, health and physical activity information (e.g. obesity, fitness facilities), and socioeconomic characteristics. There is online documentation and data can be downloaded in Excel format.
The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America adds even more information about people, jobs, the character of agricultural production, and levels of urbanization. Again documentation is available and data can be downloaded.
With growing interest in active transport practitioners and researchers have created a large number of tools to measure active transport behavior and environments. The following web sites provide lists or databases of such tools. If you want to measure AT, such sites can be a good place to start. Thye have been sponsored by such groups as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Cancer Institite, and the Federal Highway Administration:
- Active Living Research Tools and Measures: A compilation of community audit, park audit, survey, tracking, and related tools for measuring physical activity environments and behaviors.
- National Collaborative for Childhood Obesity Research:(NCCOR) Measures Registry: A database of measurement tools including many related to measuring physical activity behavior and the built environment; oriented toward research applications: http://tools.nccor.org/measures/
- Standardized Questionnaires of Walking and Bicycling Database: A database with approximately 100 tools focused on physical activity: http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/tools/paq/
- Toole Design Group: 29 case studies of measuring walking and cycling: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/pdf/casestudies/PBIC_Data_Collection_Case_Studies.pdf
|Pedestrians in suburban Paris. Photo: Ann Forsyth|
Children, because they are still growing and developing, often suffer from different or additional health risks compared with adults. There are many useful resources on this topic–I list a few below specifically tailored to health and places.
|Feeding chickens. Photo: Heather Forsyth|
- Children’s Health Protection
Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this Web site has a terrific search feature for looking up publications related to where children live, learn, and play. Their Children’s Environmental Health section has additional resources:including a site on indicators called America’s Children and the Environment.
- Guide to Community Preventive Services
This resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a study titled “Community Interventions to Promote Healthy Social Environments: Early Childhood Development and Family Housing,” which gives recommendations from reviews of HUD Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Rental Vouchers and preschool programs based on early childhood development intervention success. There’s also a section on adolescent health, focused on broad health topics.
- Effective Interventions to Tackle Inequalities in Children’s Health
This London Health Commission report provides a summary of “what works” —or what appears to work—in relation to the aims and interventions proposed in the draft children and young people’s strategy; examines other interventions with strong evidence of effectiveness in reducing inequalities in child health; and identifies where there are gaps in the evidence.