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Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program (NUPAO)

AZ Healthy Communities

Making the healthy choice the easy choice.

Where you live impacts your health, and Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has recognized this connection. Working collaboratively with outside agencies, ADHS plans to help foster environments that support healthy behavior, such as biking and walking.

The purpose of AZ Healthy Communities is to link and support Arizona communities that are using, or are interested in using, collaborative approaches to healthy community planning and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. AZ Healthy Communities strives to increase neighborhoods that promote healthier lifestyles, increase evidence on the effectiveness of innovative healthy community planning, and decrease health and social inequities by focusing on the influence of where we live.



The proximity of homes to nearby public services will influence health. One example is food deserts. Many areas, especially in Arizona, do not have easy access to large grocers, which sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Community members may be less likely to consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables if these foods are not readily accessible. Additionally, some communities may not have accessible public transportation or even affordable healthcare options nearby. Accessibility may act as a barrier to communities for living healthy lives. Accessibility can be influenced by both community design and by transportation.


  • USDA Food Desert Locator
    Visualizes food deserts according to census tracts, across the United States, and demographic for the food desert census tracts. The "Overview" tab states exactly how the USDA defines a food desert, along with other background information.
  • Evaluating Accessibility for Transportation PlanningPDF
    Provides basic foundation and definitions of accessibility and how it can be measured.
  • CDC Transportation and Food Access
    Offers research and white papers on community access to food and transportation.
  • ChangeLab Solutions
    Houses tools and resources for policy change for issues such as health planning (including accessibility), childhood obesity, healthy housing and tobacco control. Provides best practices and case study examples of policy change.