Establishing a Baseline for Population-level Behaviors in Selected Neighborhoods
Building Healthy Communities
March 2, 2016
In 2014, NYSHealth launched the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund, an initiative to build healthy and active communities across New York State.
NYSHealth is investing $2 million in the initiative, which spans six communities and supports projects to increase residents’ access to healthy, affordable food options, opportunities for physical activity, and other programs that encourage healthy living. To learn which programs are most effective, NYSHealth is supporting an evaluation of the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund that will help substantiate the importance of investing in the built environment and healthy food access in a community. In 2015, NYSHealth awarded a grant to New York University School of Medicine (NYU) to collect baseline data on behaviors and knowledge levels on health eating and activity in Healthy Neighborhoods Fund sites.
Under this grant, NYU measured the impact of the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund interventions on community residents. Specifically, NYU collected baseline information in three Healthy Neighborhoods Fund sites and three control communities. Data were collected through a large-scale survey and measurement of the usage of open spaces. Through this research, NYU established baseline measures for health behaviors, such as eating habits; physical activity levels; linkages to local programs that support lifestyle change; knowledge of and motivation for healthy lifestyles; and how many people are using parks and other physical activity spaces. The data helped assess whether Healthy Neighborhoods Fund grantees are accomplishing their goals of improving local environments to make healthy food and exercise more accessible for residents.