Urban Sprawl: What's Health Got to Do With It?

urban sprawl


Urban sprawl impacts land use, transportation, and social and economic development, but it also has serious implications for our health. There is increasing evidence that the way we design our communities discourages physical activity such as walking and cycling, contributes to air pollution, and promotes pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Automobile dependence contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and increases the risk of car crashes. Runoff due to the absence of vegetation is polluting our water systems. And sprawl may threaten mental health and social capital. Join us as we discuss these and other health effects and present the case of Portland, Oregon, a community that has made great strides in containing urban sprawl. We will explore the history of this issue, our current situation, and future directions in promoting smart growth and healthy communities.


  • Define urban sprawl and how it can be measured.
  • Identify six health effects of urban sprawl.
  • Discuss alternatives to urban sprawl and how they are implemented.
  • Discuss the potential health benefits of limiting urban sprawl.
  • Describe the potential for collaboration among public health, urban planning, transportation planning, and land use and design professionals.


Public health, environmental and civic leaders, managers, and professionals from local and state government agencies, boards of health, community-based health organizations, academic institutions, federal agencies, and others who seek to increase awareness of transportation and land use issues, urban sprawl, and smart growth, and the many links between these
issues and public health.


No presenter in this program has a financial interest or other relationship with manufacturers of commercial products, providers of commercial services or commercial supporters.
No presenter in this program will discuss the unlabeled use of commercial products or products for investigational use.