Public health trends in the SCAG region have largely worsened or remained stagnant for the past 15 years. Currently, nearly 14 percent of residents suffer from asthma, 28 percent have high blood pressure, and nearly 30 percent are considered obese. Unfortunately, chronic diseases and injuries are now accounting for 69% of all causes of death. Across the region, life expectancy ranges drastically, from 68 to 93 years, depending on census tract. SCAG’s analysis of regional public health conditions continues to reinforce this point- where you live matters. Transportation and land use decisions shape neighborhoods, while also influencing health outcomes. To improve health outcomes and to reduce inequities, it is critical for public health to be integrated into land use and transportation planning.
Public Health and the Built Environment
Public health is largely a product of the social determinants of health, or the conditions in which people live, work, play, and age. Community and environmental conditions are impacted by policies and practices of many sectors of society, most of which are not under the control of public health professionals. Recognition that public health is influenced by multiple factors has led many federal, state, and local agencies to adopt the Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach. Health in All Policies is a collaborative approach that integrates and articulates health considerations into policymaking across sectors to improve health of all communities and people. HiAP recognizes that health is created by a multitude of factors beyond healthcare and, in many cases, beyond the scope of traditional public health activities. Under the HiAP approach, transportation and land use agencies are considered to be best-positioned to create policies and practices that promote healthy communities and environments.
SCAG’s Commitment to Public Health
As a regional planning agency, SCAG is in a unique position to engage with stakeholders throughout the region to advance health-conscious transportation and land use planning practices. Through the region’s long-range plan, Connect SoCal, SCAG conducts a public health analysis of existing conditions and trends and anticipated future health outcomes, and outlines strategies that the region and stakeholders can pursue to improve public health. The analysis is focused on the following social determinants of health: