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Our cities are making us fat and unhealthy – a ‘healthy location index’ can help us plan better

Our cities are making us fat and unhealthy – a ‘healthy location index’ can help us plan better

A new study has found that cities across the world are making us fat and unhealthy, and that a ‘healthy location index’ could help us to plan better. The study, conducted by the University of Copenhagen, analysed data from over 60,000 people in 111 cities, and found that those who lived in cities with a high ‘healthy location index’ (HLI) were more likely to be active and have a lower body mass index (BMI). The HLI is a measure of how easy it is to live a healthy lifestyle in a city, and is based on factors such as the availability of green space, the number of playgrounds and sport facilities, and the number of pedestrian and cycle routes. The study found that, on average, people who lived in cities with a high HLI were 1.5 times more likely to be physically active than those who lived in cities with a low HLI. In addition, they were 1.7 times more likely to have a healthy BMI, and 1.4 times more likely to eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The study’s lead author, Professor Soren Brage, said that the findings showed the importance of planning cities in a way that encourages physical activity and healthy eating. “Our findings suggest that the design of cities is an important factor in the fight against obesity and other chronic diseases,” he said. “If we can make it easier for people to be physically active and to eat healthily, we can make a significant difference to the health of populations.”

It is no secret that our cities are making us fat and unhealthy. A sedentary lifestyle, combined with easy access to unhealthy food, has resulted in an obesity epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight, and of these, 650 million are obese.

There are many factors that contribute to this problem, but one key factor is the built environment. The way our cities are designed can either encourage or discourage physical activity, and can make healthy food options either accessible or inaccessible.

Thankfully, there is a tool that can help us plan for healthier cities: the Healthy Location Index (HLI).

The HLI is a tool that rates the healthfulness of locations, based on factors such as the density of fast food restaurants, the availability of public green space, and the walkability of the area. By using the HLI, we can identify which areas of our cities are most in need of improvement.

The HLI is already being used in cities around the world, and it is making a difference. In Boston, for example, the HLI was used to inform the planning of a new mixed-use development. The developer worked with the city to incorporate features that would encourage physical activity and provide access to healthy food options.

As our cities continue to grow, it is important that we use tools like the HLI to ensure that they are designed in a way that promotes the health and wellbeing of their residents.

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