Designing Healthy Cities to Reverse Obesity and NCD Epidemics

Monday, June 20, 2016 - Friday, June 24, 2016 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
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Course Description

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are now the leading causes of death globally and incur high healthcare costs. Obesity is a global pandemic that is rising rapidly. Physical inactivity and unhealthy diets are key risk factors. The scientific evidence has been accumulating for the important role of the built environment - our human-made buildings, streets and neighborhoods, and their amenities - in supporting or being barriers to physical activity and healthier eating. This course will teach health practitioners and non-health practitioners interested in health as well as other key outcomes for cities, such as environmental sustainability and economic development, about successful real-world interventions and strategies for improving the built environment to address obesity and NCDs, and concomitant benefits for environmental sustainability and economic development. Cities that have successfully implemented such interventions and achieved results, such as New York, will be used as case examples. The course uses lectures, group discussions and exercises, and field visits and case studies to help course participants begin this work in their own practice as professionals.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify today's key epidemics and their risk factors
  2. Identify the key built environment factors that impact active living and healthy eating
  3. Identify examples of successful policy and practice interventions for built environment improvements for physical activity and healthy eating
  4. Identify potential strategies for implementing such policy and practice interventions for improving the built environment for physical activity and healthy eating within their own cities


Participants should wear comfortable clothing and footwear, as a portion of the course will be dedicated to neighborhood tours.

Course Reading List
  1. World Health Organization. 2010. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. See:
  2. Community Preventive Services Task Force. The Guide to Community Preventive Services. See:
  3. City of New York. Active Design Guidelines. See:
  4. Active Design Supplement: Promoting Safety. See:
  5. Karen K. Lee. Working across sectors for health equity. In Cities for Health. Kobe, Japan: World Health Organization, 2014. See:
  6. Rube K, Veatch M, Huang K, Sacks R, Lent M, Goldstein G, Lee KK. Developing Built Environment Programs in Local Health Departments: Lessons Learned from a Nationwide Mentoring Program. American Journal of Public Health 2014; 104(5): e10-e18.


Karen Lee, MD, MHSc

Dr. Karen Lee ( is a Professor and healthy built environment and health policy advisor/consultant. Her team helps cities and organizations use the built environment – our buildings, streets, and neighborhoods – and other determinants of health to address the global epidemics of obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases. Previously, she was Inaugural Director of NYC Health Department's Built Environment Program for over 8 years where she led the development of the award-winning Active Design Guidelines and its multiple supplements, worked as a Deputy Medical Officer in public health departments in Canada, and was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the US CDC. She also advises World Health Organization offices and is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta. (February 1, 2018)

Course Fee

Registration is $850.00


The registration period has closed for this event.


Hammer 320

701 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032

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