Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 39–48 | Cite as

Ethical Considerations Involved in Constructing the Built Environment to Promote Health

Symposium

Abstract

The prevalence of chronic diseases has increased in recent decades. Some forms of the built environment adopted during the 20th century—e.g., urban sprawl, car dependency, and dysfunctional streetscapes—have contributed to this. In this article, I summarise ways in which the built environment influences health and how it can be constructed differently to promote health. I argue that urban planning is inevitably a social and political activity with many ethical dimensions, and I illustrate this with two examples: the construction of a hypothetical new suburb and a current review of planning legislation in Australia. I conclude that (1) constructing the built environment in ways that promote health can be ethically justified, (2) urban planners and public health workers should become more skilled in the application of ethical considerations to practical problems, and (3) the public health workforce needs to become more competent at influencing the activities of other sectors.

Keywords

Ethics Public health Chronic disease Social environment City planning 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Health, South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health DistrictsLiverpoolAustralia
  2. 2.Sydney School of Public HealthUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.City Futures Research Centre, Faculty of the Built EnvironmentUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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