Poor landscape design can be a public health issue, experts say

Manmade spaces like parks and walking paths can help improve health by encouraging people to be active, according to David Spooner, an architect and professor in the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design. 

Spooner and colleagues are collaborating with the UGA Cooperative Extension, led by the College of Public Health, on a project that aims to improve health outcomes in rural communities in which obesity affects 40% of the residents or more.

The infrastructure in rural communities is often not well maintained, and landscape designs don’t lend themselves to the needs of the people. For example, businesses are spread far apart, and families often share a car, according to Jennifer Lewis, director of the Center for Community Design and Preservation. With a suitable design, inconvenience is less of an issue for the family struggling.

But as Spooner and staff learned in Taliaferro County, it takes more than just hiring architects to improve the situation. Engaging the community is half the battle.

This is part of a series of briefs covering the 2019 State of the Public’s Health conference at the University of Georgia. Amber Perry is a graduate student in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Please click here to read the full post.