With more than half of Chicago adults either overweight or obese, the Chicago Plan Commission adopted a formal plan today that will make neighborhoods healthier places to live by improving access to healthier foods.
“A Recipe for Healthy Places,” presents six community-based planning strategies to support healthy eating. In addition to changing the context in which people acquire and eat food, the plan’s strategies seek to foster business entrepreneurism, job growth, gardening, and other spin-off benefits that provide for a healthier city. The plan is an outgrowth of the city’s public health agenda, Healthy Chicago, which was launched by Mayor Emanuel in 2011.
“The link between poor nutrition, obesity and obesity-related disease contributes to many chronic and costly health conditions for people of all ages,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “By identifying ways to increase access to healthy food and information people need to make healthier choices, this new plan enables everyone to contribute to the City’s overall health and wellness.”
Coordinated by the Departments of Housing and Economic Development, Public Health, and Family Support Services, with support from the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, A Recipe for Health Places has been under development since the summer of 2011. More than 400 nutritionists, backyard gardeners, community activists, child care providers, food entrepreneurs, academics, neighborhood residents and others participated in more than two dozen public workshops and forums in developing its strategies.
“Healthy living begins in our homes and our neighborhoods,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. “Ensuring every Chicagoan has access to healthy, affordable food options in their own neighborhoods is a central goal of the Healthy Chicago agenda.”
The strategies seek to:
“This plan to combat obesity recognizes the complexity of the challenge by bringing together strategies from the fields of economic development, health, support services, urban agriculture, education and others under one framework,” added Evelyn Diaz, commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services.
As a citywide plan adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission, A Recipe for Healthy Places will serve as an official roadmap for city planning and policymaking, as well as a guide for groups and individuals seeking to achieve healthier lifestyles through food. Rates of obesity in Chicago have doubled among adults and tripled among children since 1980, which mirrors trends in other urban areas in the U.S. and the country as a whole.
“The appropriate City of Chicago departments will lead the implementation of many of the strategies, but the plan’s overall success depends on the cooperation of local agencies, businesses, institutions and other neighborhood stakeholders,” said Andrew J. Mooney, commissioner of the Department of Housing and Economic Development.
By targeting factors that contribute to health and medical issues among the city population, Healthy Places continues a long history of health-related community planning in Chicago. The flow of the Chicago River, for example, was reversed to reduce water-related cholera outbreaks, and many of the city’s parks and field houses were initially developed to provide clean, safe places to play and gather.
A copy of the Healthy Places plan will be made available on the City of Chicago web site.