Fighting Mental and Physical Illness by Reshaping Cities

Posted on September 20, 2014

Photo: flickr

A recently published study in The Lancet estimated that 40 percent of Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetime - a trend which is largely due to obesity and inactivity. Since the 1990s, some public health professionals have turned their attention to the potential offered by environmental modifications to fight obesity and improve population health. The same environmental modifications might positively impact another public health problem: depression.

Several studies have linked urban sprawl to obesity. Food advertising and rising stress levels have also been implicated. Other studies have shown that individuals eat 35 percent more when eating socially as opposed to eating alone, that fast paced music has the effect of encouraging people to eat more, and that lighting, hard surfaces, and colors are associated with greater food consumption.

Promoting the adoption of new healthy behaviors often requires reinforcement. However, changes to infrastructure, such as increasing the price of parking and providing ample walking and biking paths can shape behaviors in ways that promote health.

Just as changing environment to counter the social isolation of cars and lack of physical activity can fight obesity, it also has the potential to address depression.

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Source material from Brain Blogger

Mental Health News