The Geographic Health Equity Alliance (GHEA) partnered with SelfMade Health Network and Nuestras Voces Adelante Network to host a four-part webinar series titled “Upstream Approaches in Cancer Prevention.” This series focuses on policy, systems, and environmental change strategies that address upstream social determinants of health that contribute to an increased cancer burden. It focused on HPV vaccination, broadband access, food and nutritional security and the built environment.


On May 7th Taylor March from the Missourians for Responsible Transportation (MRT) hosted part 4 of this series with a webinar titled: “Introduction to Built Environment Approaches for Addressing Health”. In this webinar, Taylor addressed the following objectives:

  • Understand the role of the built environment in shaping health outcomes, specifically in the context of cancer prevention.
  • List specific examples of past policies which have had a negative impact on cancer prevention.
  • Understand the intersectionality of Built Environment approaches such as transportation, housing, and development patterns to address health disparities.
  • Be able to articulate how Missourians for Responsible Transportation and their partners have used built environment approaches to shift health outcomes.

The webinar provided an overview of the need for built environment approaches to addressing health, highlighting the connections between place and life expectancy. Taylor showed how past transportation, housing, zoning and other related policies have had unintended consequences for health and have resulted in far reaching health disparities for low-income communities and communities of color. He went on to highlight the ways in which streets and transportation policy specifically have shaped our communities and resulted in places where being able to integrate physical activity into our daily routines is nearly impossible.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sedentary lifestyles pose serious risks, including increases in rates of mortality, cardiovascular disease, chronic disease, anxiety and depression. Approximately 60-85% of people worldwide lead sedentary lives, making it a pressing public health issue that we can address by improving the built environment.

The webinar also presented some recent bright spots in the realm of transportation and built environment policy including “Complete Streets” policies and better street design standards that work to make changes to our streets and public spaces that make it easier for people to be physically active in their daily routines. Taylor went on to share some of the successes that MRT has been able to see in communities they have been working with in Missouri. He showcases projects that increase sidewalks and other infrastructure to serve the nearly one-third of the United States population that doesn’t have a driver’s license and is thereby reliant on walking, biking, and transit and our most basic forms of mobility to get around.

The webinar recording is available here, and the slides are available here.