Viewpoint: Why Amazon should focus on population health in HQ2 cities

After roughly a yearlong search, Amazon announced its decision last month to build its second and third headquarters in New York City and Arlington, Va. While CEO, Chairman and Founder Jeff Bezos said the decision will "allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come," one public health researcher said Mr. Bezos also took into account the population health considerations of each potential location.

In an op-ed for Fortune, Boston University School of Public Health Dean Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, noted Mr. Bezos' statement on the decision made specific mention of his desire to become integrated into the communities surrounding the headquarters, engaging with that city's existing social and physical networks.

However, Dr. Galea writes that Mr. Bezos and Amazon understand that part of that dynamic includes a city's ability to facilitate healthy populations — a city's design, density, social cohesion of community, and the basic services and public goods available in the area are integral to an individual's ability to live healthily and be successful.

"When neighborhoods are socioeconomically stable, services robust, transportation clean and efficient, and local government responsive to community needs, health thrives. When these conditions are wanting, health suffers," Dr. Galea writes.

"Place is a ubiquitous influence on our health. It is like the water in a goldfish bowl. If the water is dirty, a fish cannot be healthy, no matter how much exercise it gets or how nutritious its food happens to be," he writes. "It should be an imperative for all of us who understand this to work to make the places where we live, work and play are as healthy as we can make them."

To access the full op-ed, click here.

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