As the Healthy Eating Active Living Cities, Towns, and Counties Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic takes hold in Virginia, more and more local elected leaders are recognizing the importance of and intersection of local planning and health.

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As of April 2015, 14 Virginia cities and towns and one county have joined the HEAL Campaign. The Campaign’s primary partner in the Commonwealth, the Virginia Municipal League, featured the initiative in its most recent edition of its Virginia Town & City Magazine. This eight-page cover story reveals that while Virginia is not immune from the national obesity epidemic, local elected officials, not just health care providers, play an important role in combating obesity and related chronic disease. By shaping the environments in which community members and employees live, work, and play, policymakers help create spaces where eating healthy and being more physically active are routine elements of residents and employee’s lifestyles. Communities with healthy workers and residents lead not only to cost-savings from health care expenses, but to population growth and thriving economies.

The City of Charlottesville understands the positive role that healthy eating and active living play in being a sustainable community. “Its helped show how how every decision we make has some impact on the physical well-being of our residents, and to make those decisions consciously in an effort to make Charlottesville a healthier place for everyone,” noted City Councilwoman Kristen Szakos upon adopting its HEAL Resolution.

To learn more about the HEAL Campaign and the benefits of becoming a member, as well as more stories from across the Commonwealth, read the article, visit the HEAL website, and contact Marisa Jones at mjones@institutephi.org to join today.