Urban planners, economists, health and community policymakers and practitioners share insights in a new study on creating healthy food environments using urban planning policy and governance levers.

Take note: Planning Institute of Australia, Heart Foundation of Australia, Prevention Health Victoria.  Public health and planning professions worldwide.

Urban planning policy has the potential to benefit food access through improving access to healthy food outlets and limiting access to unhealthy outlets; however,

  • pathways for implementing these policy approaches are unclear, and
  • responsibilities are contested and dispersed across portfolios, sectors and levels of government.

What we did and why: This study aimed to understand stakeholder perspectives on urban planning policies and other factors that influence food access through the development of local food environments, and to identify governance opportunities to advance healthy equitable local food access and food environments.

What this study adds:  Regulation, urban planning policy, finance, coordination and partnerships are key governance actions and processes for the creation of healthy food environments; with political leadership as a driver for action and distributed leadership as essential for implementation.

Regulation, urban planning policy, finance, coordination and partnerships are key governance actions and processes for the creation of healthy food environments:

  • Political leadership as a driver for action and distributed leadership is essential for implementation.
  • Concerted action across multiple governance processes is required.

Land use, housing density, urban design and transport policies were used in tandem by local government to support the development of healthy equitable local food environments.

Implications for city policy and practice: Local fine-grained data of food outlet access and associations with health outcomes is an important driver of political leadership at the local level, engages civil society as advocates for change and identifies geographic areas of inequity.

A multi-pronged approach to partnerships is essential, harnessing opportunities to bring healthy food access to both time-limited and ongoing coordinating platforms, as a standalone priority or as part of a broader focus on healthy built environments or liveable communities.

Full article: Local food environments: stakeholder perspectives on urban planning and governance to advance health and equity within cities

Useful links: Healthy Active by Design (www.healthyactivebydesign.com.au)

Authors: Maureen Murphy (@maureenfmurphy1), Helen Jordan, Hannah Badland and Billie Giles-Corti (@billiegc)
City Know-how editor: Marcus Grant