Health in Planning

The intent of the Health in Planning program is to improve health and health equity in the East Central Region by incorporating considerations of potential health impacts into community planning efforts and future development decision making at the regional, county, and local levels.

Health and Planning Tools

Active Community Environments Wisconsin Resource Kit – A neighborhood, city, or county that explores opportunities to enable physical activity in the daily routine of its residents. It does this by designing the built environment, safety, and accessibility for ALL people, resulting in opportunities that improve health.

American Planning Association (APA) – Drinking Water in Public Places – APA outlines strategies to promote access to drinking water as an essential step towards ensuring healthy, livable communities.

American Planning Association (APA) – Healthy Plan Making –  Guide to integrating health into the comprehensive planning process

American Planning Association (APA) – Healthy Planning – The report shows which public health topics have been included the most and which topics receive the least attention. It also highlights plan strengths and weaknesses in addressing public health and identifies examples of robust policies from across the group of plans that promote health in their communities.

American Planning Association (APA) – Plan4Health – Collaboration of APA and American Public Health Association to build local capacity to address health goals using planning strategies

American Planning Association (APA) – Planning and Public Health Webinars – APA’s Planning and Community Health Center facilitates webinars that share research, case studies, and resources focused on built environment interventions that promote community health. The webinar series touches on a variety of topics related to planning and public health, including strategies to advance active living, healthy eating, and cross-sector and community collaborations.

American Planning Association (APA) – Public Health Survey – APA developed a national, web-based survey to identify draft and adopted comprehensive and sustainability plans that explicitly include public health related goals, objectives, and policies, and inventory the public health topics included in the plans. It also identifies the opportunities and barriers that communities face in the development and adoption of such policies and assesses the current state of planning for public health nationally.

Applied Population Lab – UW Madison – Provides information solutions through a unique set of skills that unites applied demography, health geography, spatial analysis, information systems, planning, and community development.

Centers for Diease Control and Prevention, Healthy Places – According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of infirmity. A healthy community as described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 report is one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and social environments, helping people to support one another in aspects of daily life and to develop to their fullest potential. Healthy places are those designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borders — where every person is free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible, and affordable options.

Community Health Assessment and Group Evaluation (CHANGE) – The CHANGE tool helps community teams (such as coalitions) develop their community action plan. This tool walks community team members through the assessment process and helps define and prioritize possible areas of improvement. Having this information as a guide, community team members can create sustainable, community-based improvements that address the root causes of chronic diseases and related risk factors. It can be used annually to assess current policy, systems, and environmental change strategies and offer new priorities for future efforts.

County Health Rankings – The annual Rankings provide a revealing snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. They provide a starting point for change in communities.

East Central WI Regional Planning Commission, Safe Routes to School – The East Central Wisconsin Regional Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program focuses on empowering local communities and school districts with the resources and knowledge needed to implement SRTS activities.

healthTIDE – healthTIDE is a network of connected partners working towards a common goal to make the healthy choice the easy choice and reduce health disparities so that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. They connect and support alignment among multi-­sector partners across Wisconsin who are working to together to create lasting policy, system, and environmental changes related to nutrition and physical activity.

Institute for Local Government Healthy Communities and Land Use Planning – The Institute for Local Government’s Healthy Neighborhoods program provides support and resources to protect and improve community health by integrating health considerations into their planning, land use and other decisions. Also see

Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl – This report presents the first national study to show a clear association between the type of place people live and their activity levels, weight, and health. The study, Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Physical Activity, Obesity, and Morbidity, found that people living in counties marked by sprawling development are likely to walk less and weigh more than people who live in less sprawling counties. In addition, people in more sprawling counties are more likely to suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure). These results hold true after controlling for factors such as age, education, gender, and race and ethnicity.

Nashville Civic Design Center – Founded in 2000, the Nashville Civic Design Center (NCDC) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to elevate the quality of Nashville’s built environment and to promote public participation in the creation of a more beautiful and functional city for all.

Opening School Grounds to the Community After Hours – In many communities, where safe places to play are few and far between, schools offer a variety of recreational facilities – from gymnasiums and running tracks to sports fields and playgrounds – to meet residents’ needs.

Place and Health, Designing communities that promote well-being – “GIS is moving to a different stage,” Esri president Jack Dangermond said in his keynote address at the Healthy Communities by Design Summit held in November 2010. “We now want to create better communities from the start, not just fix communities that we have messed up. We need energy and thought about the kind of communities we want to live in.”

Retail Food Environment Index (mRFEI) – The mRFEI measures the number of healthy and less healthy food retailers within census tracts across each state as defined by typical food offerings in specific types of retail stores (e.g., supermarkets, convenience stores, or fast food restaurants). See also – and

Strategies for Enhancing the Built Environment to Support Healthy Eating and Active Living – Healthy people require healthy environments, neighborhoods, schools, childcare centers, and workplaces. People need their environments to be structured in ways that help them access healthy foods and easily incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Creating healthy environments cannot be done in isolation by any one organization or field. It requires coordinated and comprehensive efforts by multiple organizations, leaders, fields, and sectors.

The Community Guide – Collection of evidence-based findings of the Community Preventive Services Task Force

The Community Guide: Built Environment – Combined built environment approaches to increase physical activity

The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation – Transportation investments and the systems that are developed from them shape lives and communities. The transportation system is a complex web of highways,sidewalks, bike paths, trains and bus services that connect people to each other as well as to places of work, play, prayer, medical care, and shopping. Transportation policies and decisions influence land use and how communities and neighborhoods are designed and built—whether sprawling and disconnected, or central and connected.

Turning Red Zones into Blue Zones – Blue Zones is the name given by explorer, educator, and author Dan Buettner to places where people live long lives—often past the age of 100. Buettner found that people living in Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Icaria, Greece, lived not only long but also active lives.

What Works for Health – What Works for Health provides communities with information to help select and implement evidence-informed policies, programs, and system changes that will improve the variety of factors that affect health. The research underlying this site is based on a model of population health that emphasizes the many factors that can make communities healthier places to live, learn, work, and play.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Health Impact Assessments (HIA) – Collection of HIA tools







ECWRPC website