Health outcomes

Data collected from national, state and local sources indicates that individual health concerns in San Antonio are varied, widespread and tied to the health of the broader community. Obesity stands out as one of the most crucial health concerns. In general, racial and ethnic minorities with lower educational attainment and income levels have the worst health outcomes.

As a response to these increasing challenges, the City designated health and active living as top priorities for the region. In 2010, San Antonio formed the Active Living Council to promote the integration of physical activity into people’s daily routines. The Active Living Plan for a Healthier San Antonio provides a set of policies and strategies that public and private institutions can implement across eight community sectors. And the SA2020 Vision Report lays out a strong vision for a healthy community with an online dashboard that tracks progress towards these targets. The latest SA2020 dashboard results show that the City is making progress, is on track, or has met target goals in all areas except for air quality, walkability and vehicles miles traveled.

Despite these achievements, there is much room for improvement. Community health issues are integrated with many other elements of the City including land use, urban design, transportation, economics and community services. To improve our health scores and enhance the safety and resiliency of city assets and services, San Antonio should consider the interactions of the natural and built environments on the provision and quality of services provided.

Our approach must be regional to have a significant impact on community health. Active partnerships between the City, County, adjacent municipalities, healthcare organizations, school districts, numerous nonprofits and other organizations can support the design and implementation of public health services, coordinate healthcare education and awareness programs, and support efforts to shape a built environment that supports community health goals. For example, we can inform developers about the role the built environment plays in influencing individual and community health, and all large-scale land use and development projects can be required to include an assessment of the impact they will have on community health.

Studies show that active kids become active and healthy adults. We need to support development and recreational activities that work toward this goal.

Improving Individual and Community Health Outcomes: San Diego, California

The San Diego region enjoys many assets including rich cultural diversity, a robust economy, wonderful weather, world renowned educational and research institutions, and more—all of which provide an excellent quality of life. Yet, data clearly showed that residents were experiencing increasing rates of chronic diseases, accounting for over 50% of deaths in San Diego County. In response to these alarming trends, the Svan Diego County Board of Supervisors adopted in 2010 a regional vision known as Live Well San Diego. This program reflects a new way of thinking about and working toward solutions, new definitions and measures of success, and the recognition that no one organization can do it all. To achieve its goals, Live Well San Diego: built a collaborative network of 120 recognized partners from all sectors of society (public, private, nonprofit and community based); created a collective impact scorecard to measure successes; and identified five targeted areas of influence to guide and organize partner efforts.

San Diego County’s recognition that complex issues impacting health, safety and other aspects of a high quality life cannot be addressed by individuals acting in isolation has helped effectively improve air quality, combat obesity rates and increase average life expectancy.

Health in All Policies Approach: San Antonio Metropolitan Health

San Antonio is one of a growing number of communities who have embraced a health in all policies (HiAP) approach. This approach promotes community and personal health awareness in the development and implementation of all city wide policies and services. HiAP: recognizes that personal health behaviors are strongly influenced by the environments where we live, learn, work and play; acknowledges that greater coordination is required to ensure that programs and policies do not produce unintended negative impacts on residents’ health; and offers strategies for cities to reduce inequitable access to healthy food options and safe play spaces for children. By paying attention to the built environment – from land use planning and restaurants, to safe streets and parks – our community can greatly shape the health of our community, and especially our children.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. – World Health Organization

By 2040, 75% our youth should be getting the recommended amount of aerobic and muscle strengthening activity to meet guidelines.