Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Walking and Cycling in Western Europe and the United States: Trends, Policies, and Lessons

 

From the Web site of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies

A featured article in the May-June 2012 issue of the TR News provides an overview of cycling and walking trends and policies in Western Europe and draws lessons for programs that might succeed in the United States. Highlights include improvements in the transportation infrastructure, with a focus on safety; traffic calming in residential neighborhoods; coordinating walking and cycling with public transport; compact, mixed-use development; and other importable, foundational features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Health Benefits Of Living By The Sea

English: Coastal view of the touristic town Wi...

English: Coastal view of the touristic town Wimereux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 17 July 2012 article at Medical News Today

A new study from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, has revealed that people living near the coast tend to have better health than those living inland. ..

..Previous research has shown that the coastal environment may not only offer better opportunities for its inhabitants to be active, but also provide significant benefits in terms ofstress reduction. Another recent study conducted by the Centre in collaboration with Natural England found that visits to the coast left people feeling calmer, more relaxed and more revitalised than visits to city parks or countryside. One reason those living in coastal communities may attain better physical health could be due to the stress relief offered by spending time near to the sea.

Lead author of the study, Dr Ben Wheeler said:

“We know that people usually have a good time when they go to the beach, but there is strikingly little evidence of how spending time at the coast can affect health and wellbeing. By analysing data for the whole population, our research suggests that there is a positive effect, although this type of study cannot prove cause and effect. We need to carry out more sophisticated studies to try to unravel the reasons that may explain the relationship we’re seeing. If the evidence is there, it might help to provide governments with the guidance necessary to wisely and sustainably use our valuable coasts to help improve the health of the whole UK population”.

Dr Mathew White said:

“While not everyone can live by the sea, some of the health promoting features of coastal environments could be transferable to other places. Any future initiatives will need to balance the potential benefits of coastal access against threats from extreme events, climate change impacts, and the unsustainable exploitation of coastal locations.” ..

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Better urban planning is essential to improve health of the 60 percent of the global population that will be living in cities by 2030

From the 29 May 2012 EurekAlert

The proportion of the world’s population that lives in cities has been steadily rising, so that three in five of all people globally will live in a city by 2030. The University College London/LancetCommission on Healthy Cities explores the many issues other than health services that contribute to population health in a city environment.

The Commission has been prepared by lead author Professor Yvonne Rydin, UCL Bartlett School of Planning, and colleagues at UCL and worldwide. The authors address issues that apply globally and use specific examples from cities as diverse as London, Bogota, Accra, and Toronto to illustrate the issues.

Just as London’s first modern, large-scale, urban sewage treatment system resulted in a 15-year increase in life expectancy between the 1880s and the 1920s, so other large-scale planning initiatives can radically change the health outcomes of city-dwellers – especially for the poorest. In this report the authors recommend focussing on the delivery of a variety of urban projects that have a positive impact on health.

Examples from the report include community-led sanitation infrastructure programmes in the slums of Mumbai, India; action for urban greening to protect against heat stress in London summers; and transportation initiatives that encourage physical activity in Bogota, Colombia….

The Commission authors looked at cities as complex, interactive entities in which changes in one part of the system can have impacts on others. They use five case studies to illustrate important themes for healthy cities.

Each case study supports the argument for a new way of planning for urban health. Planners need to recognise that conditions of complexity make it difficult to capture all the necessary information about the links affecting urban health in one plan or strategy. Unintended consequences of policy action are likely to persist. Instead planners should be working with all urban health stakeholders, including local communities, particularly vulnerable communities.

Professor Rydin says: “There should be an emphasis on experimenting with and learning from diverse urban health projects. This can mean supporting communities in their own urban health projects, as with community latrines in Mumbai slums or urban food projects in London and Detroit.”

The Commission concludes with five recommendations:

  1. City governments should build political alliances for urban health.
  2. Governments need to identify the health inequalities in cities.
  3. Urban planners should include health concerns in their plans, regulations, and decisions.
  4. Policy makers need to recognise that cities are complex systems and urban health outcomes have multiple causes.
  5. Experimentation and learning through projects involving local communities is often the best way forward….

 

 

May 31, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , | Leave a comment

Green spaces reduce stress levels of jobless, study shows

English: The Loch, Heriot-Watt University. The...

Image via Wikipedia

February 15, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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