Environmental Studies Program

 

Date of this Version

Fall 12-2011

Abstract

Obesity is a growing threat to America’s health. The national rate of obesity is 34% (Health Consequences, 2011), and Lincoln, Nebraska is not far behind that trend at 20.7% (BRFSS, 2011). Increasing physical activity is one way to reduce weight gain, (Edwards, 2008) and further studies show that small changes to the built environment can induce people to use alternative and more active forms of transportation such as biking, walking, and public transportation (Edwards, 2008; Zheng, 2008). The 2040 Comprehensive Plan for Lincoln, NE includes language to create a more walkable community. The proposal is to redevelop existing areas within city limits to create nodes of mixed land use with corridors of streamlined alternative transportation to connect those nodes. The nodes and corridors proposal was analyzed using a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to determine whether the proposed changes will truly generate health benefits in Lincoln. Based on the walkability index developed by Frank, et al. (2004) and projected data for 2040, walkability was found to increase in all three study areas, compared to present conditions. These projected increases in walkability reasonably suggest that health benefits can be realized in the Lincoln community by following the changes proposed in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.