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Town Planners and Health Advocates Unite for Better Outcomes

April 30, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. - A new partnership between town health directors and town planners promises to create new ways to reduce Connecticut's stubborn racial health disparities, which are among the widest such differences of any state.

Alyssa Norwood, program associate with the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health, says factors such as genetics and individual behavior have a role in health care outcomes, but community factors play at least as important a role.

"You can't walk on streets and engage in physical activity if your streets aren't safe; you can't walk in neighborhoods that don't have sidewalks; you can't eat healthfully in neighborhoods that don't have nutritious food and grocery stores readily available."

She says her association has developed a tool to show how community factors affect residents' health and reveal the racial disparities.

"It's a web-based tool that lets you actually visually see, on a map, town by town, neighborhood by neighborhood, the relationship between certain community conditions and health outcomes."

The goal is to inspire partnerships between town planners and local public health departments, so that going forward, new development is informed by the health data.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT