homepage graphicIntroduction

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, accounting for 7 of 10 deaths each year and affecting nearly half of all Americans.  However chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are also highly preventable.  Top risk factors include lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, and tobacco use.  The physical structures of our communities—the “built environment”—have played a major role in fostering these behaviors:

  • Modern transportation systems have led to predominantly car-dependent populations.
  • Uneven distribution of grocery stores and supermarkets reduce access to healthy foods.
  • Haphazard development has cut off many families from parks and open spaces.

Comprehensive planning and sustainable design principles can be used to address these shortcomings.

Social structures also play a role, and much can be done to motivate healthy behaviors within work and school environments and institutions.  Creating both social and physical environments that promote good health for all is one of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2020, a set of objectives released every ten years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to guide national health promotion and disease prevention. 

Communities across the country are taking the lead in reducing the threat of chronic diseases. Central to these activities is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Communities Program, which supports communities through state and local partnerships and provides an array of tools and trainings.  The Toolkit for a Healthy Delaware is designed to help local governments in Delaware to participate in this movement.

Navigate the sections within this Toolkit by using the following links, which are also on the navigation (left-hand) column of each page of the Toolkit.

There are also links along the top of each page where you’ll find general resources associated with Toolkit.