The increasing role of transportation and number of fast food restaurants in America are both leading to obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, partnerships in several communities are promoting healthier communities through transportation and healthy food initiatives.

APHA co-hosted a webinar Wednesday to address challenges and possible solutions to modern community transportation, in collaboration with the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

At the crux of the issue is the correlation in the U.S. between increasing commute times, nutrition and obesity. According to CDC, since 1982 Americans have spent 236% more time in traffic, with each additional hour persons spend in automobiles increasing their likelihood of obesity by six percent. Additionally, growing reliance on automobiles likely factored into the dramatic rise of fast food restaurants.

Several community health projects have been implemented to combat this problem, which include attempts to provide:

  • more transportation options including mass transit, increased pedestrian and biking resources;
  • more locations for community gardens and farmers markets;
  • shortened distances between homes, workplaces, schools and recreation facilities; and
  • improved access to green space, parks and community centers.

In Nebraska, a county health department created a more bikeable community; its “Live Well Omaha” project offered a bicycle route map, increased lanes on college campuses and a shared biking system. From 2011-2012, participants burned more than 606,000 calories.

A Nashville (Tenn.) initiative created by a Community Transformation Grant —funded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — resulted in pedestrian route maps, monetary incentives to workers using public transportation and a challenge to walk 100 miles with city mayor Karl Dean.

View APHA online for transportation, health and equity resources, including a three-part webinar series.