The built-in shape of our urban surroundings has a drastic impact on the health and lifestyle of Vancouver Metro residents, according to a new study by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Conclusion: suburban neighborhoods, dependent on cars, lead to unhealthy living, while densely populated settlements with excellent transits with abundant parks encourage residents to be more physically active, among many benefits.
It also means that Vancouver and parts of Western Vancouver, North Vancouver, Bernaby and New Westminster have settlements that are far healthier than the region's dominant areas.
Researchers at UBC's Health and Community Design Lab have collaborated with several government agencies, local health authorities and TransLink for their new study called "Where is the importance: health and economic impacts of where we live".
The team also analyzed two sets of data, with a combined statistical pool of over 50,000 people.
So far, according to researchers, "very few studies have examined how transport investments, neighborhood change and access to green space are associated with less chronic diseases and lower health care costs. To date, existing evidence used to inform major decisions on investments in transport rarely explain the potential health impacts and costs associated with these factors. "
The research was led by Dr. Lawrence Frank, professor at UBC and a bombing chair in sustainable transport and public health.
"There is an increased consensus that the postal code of the neighborhood where we live is as important as our genetic code," the researchers wrote.
"Our findings reveal that the type of neighborhood you live in for your health. For this reason, it is important to recognize that the type of investment we make in our transport infrastructure, as well as the land use patterns of our communities, line will affect the money that we individually and collectively spend as a health care society. "
Key findings of the study reveal significant contrasts between lifestyle and health outcomes of both types of urban areas.
Those living in neighboring settlements, compared to suburban ones, depend on a car, are:
- 45% more likely to go for transport, and 17% more likely to meet the weekly recommended level of physical activity
- 39% less likely to have diabetes
- 42% less likely to be obese
- 23% less likely to have stressful days
- 47% more likely to have a strong sense of belonging to the community
Additionally, those living in an area with six or more nearby parks ("near" are defined as one kilometer away), compared to a parkless area, are:
- 20% more likely to go for vacation or recreation
- 33% are more likely to meet weekly recommended levels of physical activity
- 37% less likely to have diabetes and 39% less chance of having heart disease
- 43% less likely to be obese
- 19% less likely to have stressful days
- 23% more likely to have a strong sense of belonging to the community
Furthermore, residents living in an urban center approaching usually have lower health care costs compared to those living in a suburban area. Findings are similar to those found at a distance of one mile from many parks.
By analyzing data on health care costs, the researchers also found:
- Diabetes Health Expenses Differences:
- People living in a moderate-fitting area have a 23% less diabetes-related health care costs than people depending on the car
- People living with six or more nearby parks have 75% less health care costs associated with diabetes than people with zero or a park
- Hypertension health costs differences:
- People living in an area on the trail have 47% less health care costs associated with hypertension than people in a car-dependent area
- People living with six or more nearby parks have 69% less health care costs associated with hypertension than people with zero or a park
- Heart disease health costs differences
- People living in an area on the trail have health costs of 31% less than heart disease-related illnesses than people depending on the car
- People living with six or more nearby parks have 69% less health costs associated with heart disease than people with zero or a park
In real dollar figures, differences in health care costs are residues – and when multiplied by the affected population, costs are in tens of millions. For example, the cost of diabetes is $ 38,900 for someone living in a car-dependent area, while $ 17,600 for someone living in an approaching area.
The researchers hope that policy makers will apply their policy research findings, such as policies that not only extend public transit, but also integrate such high-density infrastructure investments.
Neighbors should be designed to be oriented around walking and cycling, and include enough parkland, green space and open space.
Furthermore, land use planning should support increased access to shops and services and the overall mixed use of land and conservation.
At the same time, however, the policy makers of the healthiest areas in the region – in particular in the Vancouver city – are facing a tough battle by creating a housing offering that is acceptable. The lack of affordable housing for all income pushes more and more people out of town and in suburban, car-dependent areas.