Neighborhoods and Built Environments


Where we live influences our health. Our neighborhoods should provide access to healthy foods and quality housing, while crime, violence, and low environmental quality should be avoided to ensure a lower risk of negative health outcomes.

Access to Foods that Support Healthy Eating Patterns

Most Western North Carolinians live in rural, low-income areas miles away from a supermarket. However, these locations may not be reported as food-deserts because small corner grocery stores — selling packaged, over-processed foods — are considered the same as larger grocery stores. It’s hard to eat health when you don’t have access to healthy foods.

Crime and Violence

Individuals can be exposed to violence in many ways. They can be victimized directly, or they may witness or hear about crime and violence in their neighborhood. Exposure to violence at a young age may continue well into adulthood, with the result being a greater risk for behavioral problems, substance use, and anxiety.

Environmental Conditions

Water and air quality in our neighborhoods are highly connected to our health. Water systems must comply with Environmental Protection Agency rules to prevent exposure of entire populations to toxic levels of copper and lead. Likewise, outdoor and indoor air quality can lead to higher risks of cardiovascular disease and death.

Quality of Housing

Our homes themselves can be harmful to our health. Many houses in Western North Carolina have serious health and safety hazards. Substandard housing has negative health outcomes, and issues like pest infestation and lack of insulation can be detrimental.

To learn more, visit the CDC website.