Making healthy choices isn’t just about having self-discipline. In some communities, it is easy to get fresh and affordable produce, while in other communities people are limited to fast food outlets and convenience stores with less healthy choices. The most supportive environments make healthy choices the easiest choices.
We need to make the places where people live, learn, work and play, such as schools, hospitals, workplaces and cities, supportive environments, or supportive settings. When these environments are supportive they foster participation in health and offer people protection from factors that can threaten good health.
Creating supportive environments may include:
- direct action to create policies, such as tobacco control legislation
- providing financial incentives or disincentives, for example, sponsoring alcohol-free events
- advocacy for change, for example, supporting community groups to advocate for banning junk food advertising to children
- providing education and empowerment, for example, teaching people in a disadvantaged community the skills to research local health needs
- strengthening links between health and environmental strategies, for example, implementing walking or cycling programs
- ensuring equitable access to supportive environments by mediating between conflicting interests in society, for example, promoting sexual health and wellbeing for people with disabilities
- being inclusive in planning, for example, consulting community members to identify the best approaches to health and wellbeing
- creating supportive settings for people using health services, for example, making waiting rooms feel welcoming
- promoting health in the workplace, for example, helping staff quit smoking.