The design of cities impacts the health status of their inhabitants. Now that most cities provide clean air, fresh water and a decent waste disposal services are taken for granted, the impact of lifestyles on public health marks a new frontier. Urban design can either stimulate or frustrate healthy lifestyles.
The Center uses a simple definition of healthy cities:
- Physical. A healthy environment does not suffer from air and water pollution; buildings have a healthy indoor climate and citizens have access to clean drinking water. Waste disposal systems are up and running.
- Lifestyles. The most effective way of urban planning to contribute to public health is by promoting healthy lifestyles. Actively moving around (walking, cycling), access to healthy food, social support and attractive greenery lower the risk of obesity, stress and social isolation, and the physical and mental problems caused by them.
- Sustainability. A sustainable environment saves energy and raw material, reduces the need for large-scale industrial food production and minimizes the need to transport food from faraway regions.