Promoting Healthier Communities


Public Health DivisionHealth and Human Services Agency



 Promoting Healthier Communities

The Napa County Health and Human Services Agency Public Health Division (PHD) is dedicated to identifying and promoting the fundamental requirements for health of the community.

Through community partnerships and performance-based programs, the Division works to address the underlying causes of disease and requirements for health and to create and maintain conditions that keep people healthy. The Division’s efforts incorporate a variety of approaches that anticipate and respect diverse values, beliefs and cultures while continually striving to achieve health equity for the entire community. The PHD is developing expertise in assessing the holistic impact of public policy decisions on the health of communities and is endeavoring to collaborate with the Napa County Planning Department to increase understanding of the interconnectedness of goals and actions to make our community a healthier one.

The way land is used will impact determinants of health and human health outcomes. For example:

  • Lack of physical activity increases heart disease, obesity, blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Infill development planning should include adequate transportation and circulation planning to encourage routine physical activity by residents. This depends on the availability of walkable and bikeable streets that connect homes, schools, parks, jobs and/or shopping areas; and access to safe and clean parks. Residential developments close to schools and centers of employment decrease commute time thereby increasing time for physical activity.
  • Poor nutrition impacts health in many ways such as the contribution of high fat and calorie diets make to increased rates of obesity and diabetes. Studies have shown that consumption of fruits and vegetables is largely determined by the proximity and availability of fresh produce. Many low income residential areas have limited access to grocery stores and restaurants that sell healthy, fresh food. A clear correlation has been seen between the density of fast food outlets, which are disproportionately located in low income neighborhoods, and high rates of overweight and obesity which are also disproportionately seen in populations of high poverty.
  • Air quality varies considerably within cities depending on proximity to pollution sources (e.g., freeways and polluting industry), as well as on choice and maintenance of indoor building materials such as floor covering and paint (low versus high Volatile Organic Compound concentrations). Poor air quality can increase the rate of respiratory disease, such as asthma, and cardiovascular disease.

This  guide (Healthy Communities-BARHII Healthy Planning guide)  is intended to help public health and planning departments collaborate on strategies to promote healthier communities. Each page links health risks to aspects of the built environment, outlining ways to ensure that neighborhoods are designed to support health equity and community well-being.

Developmental support for this guide was provided by the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) of which Napa County is a member. Support for the publication was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment. PPHLP is a non profit organization that provides legal information on matters related to Public Health.


Healthy Communities-BARHII Healthy Planning guide

BARHII Web site