The Built Environment and Public Health

Hi! I’m Aleeza and I am a graduate student in the first year of my Masters of Public Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. As part of my program, I am required to complete a capstone project which entails over 300 hours of community work in an area of my interest. Urban health is definitely one of my main interests, especially since I was raised in the metropolitan city of Miami and first-hand experienced life in such a huge and diverse population.

The built environment is one of the many determinants of urban health. Physical inactivity may be caused by sprawling and poor city design and can lead to numerous negative health outcomes. Active Design Miami (ADM) immediately caught my attention when I was trying to decide where to complete my capstone. Its mission of creating healthier streets, buildings, and open spaces really resonated with me. One of the health issues ADM tries to target is obesity, which is one of the two leading causes of death and disability in America. Miami has one of the highest rates of obesity in the country with over 67% of adults in Miami-Dade County considered obese or overweight. This preventable disease puts them at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and the list goes on. Through 69 strategies, ADM hopes to tackle this health outcome and many others to create a healthier built environment for a sustainable population.

As part of my capstone field experience, I have three main objectives: learn about Active Design Miami; learn about the Miami Center for Architecture and Design/American Institute of Architects; and learn about the Health and Built Environment Committee of the Consortium for a Healthier Miami-Dade County. My activities will include understanding the ADM strategies, evaluating how they have been implemented, and reaching out to those municipalities that have not yet adopted the guidelines. Also, I will be assisting in the Fit City 2018 conference and participating in other meetings.

I am super excited to be part of a movement to a healthier Miami and in turn a healthier America!