Archives: Health (general)

 

Kelly-Schwartz 2004 - "Is Sprawl Unhealthy?"

Kelly-Schwartz, Alexia; Stockard, Jean, et al
"Is Sprawl Unhealthy? A Multilevel Analysis of the Relationship of Metropolitan Sprawl to the Health of Individuals"
Journal of Planning Education and Research
December 2004; v.24, n2; pp.184-196
On the Web
Relevance: high

The authors replicated and extended Ewing et al's work on the effect of sprawl on health. They compared self- and physican-rated health as well as a variety of chronic conditions across metropolitan areas while controlling for income, education, sex, etc. They found that sprawl does affect health somewhat, but in a complex way that is difficult to track.  It appears that a highly gridded street network is associated with better health while more density is associated with poorer health.  While sprawl was not significantly associated with a higher prevalence of chronic conditions, among those with those conditions, the gridded street network was associated with better health.

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Ewing 2003 - "Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Physical Activity, Obesity, and Mortality"

Ewing, Reid; Schmid, Tom, et al
"Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Physical Activity, Obesity, and Mortality"
American Journal of Health Promotion
September/October 2003; vol.18, n.1; pp.47-57
On the Web
Relevance: high

The authors estimated the impact of a county and metropolitan area sprawl index on obesity, physical activity, and related diseases. They found that the county  index significantly influenced the number of minutes spent in leisure-time walking, average BMI, obesity status, and prevalence of hypertension.

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Berkman 1995 - The Role of Social Relations in Health Promotion

Berkman, Lisa F.
"The Role of Social Relations in Health Promotion"
Psychosomatic Medicine - Special Issue: Superhighways for Disease
May/June 1995; v.57, n.3; pp.245-254
On the Web
Relevance: low/medium

Here's the nut of the article, from the abstract: "There is now a substantial body of evidence that indicates that the extent to which social relationships are strong and supportive is related to the health of individuals who live within such social contexts. A review of population-based research on mortality risk over the last 20 years indicates that people who are isolated are at increased mortality risk from a number of causes." According to Berkman, social isolation, "seemed to make people more vulnerable to a broad range of diseases and disabilities..." (This is in marked contrast to the standard medical etiological approach that specific causes for specific diseases.)

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ICTA 2000 - “In-Car Air Pollution: The Hidden Threat to Automobile Drivers"

International Center for Technology Assessment,
“In-Car Air Pollution: The Hidden Threat to Automobile Drivers"
Report No. 4, An Assessment of the Air Quality Inside Automobile Passenger Compartments
Washington, DC: July 2000
On the Web
Relevance: high

This report reviews 23 studies from between 1982 and 1998 covering the main pollutants inside cars: particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and ozone.  For all exhaust pollutants except CO and the largest PM, concentrations are typically higher inside cars in heavy traffic than elsewhere.

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Giles-Corti 2003 - “Relative Influences of Individual, Social Environmental, and Physical Environmental Correlates of Walking”

Giles-Corti, Billie and Donovan, Robert J.
“Relative Influences of Individual, Social Environmental, and Physical Environmental Correlates of Walking.”
American Journal of Public Health.
September 2003; v.93, n.9; pp. 1583-1589.
On the Web
Relevance: high

Using a survey of healthy residents of Perth, Australia and an objective measure of access to places to walk, Giles-Corti and Donovan found that living on a quiet street with sidewalks, trees, and shops increased the likelihood that survey participants walked  the recommended daily amount.

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Sturm 2004 - "Suburban sprawl and physical and mental health"

R. Sturm, D.A. Cohen
“Suburban sprawl and physical and mental health”
Public Health
2004; 118; pp488-496
Relevance: high

Sturm and Cohen analyzed Healthcare for Communities phone survey data from 1998 and 2000/2001 that assessed 16 chronic physical health conditions or symptom clusters (e.g., asthma, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, etc.) and health-related quality of life, as well as depression and anxiety.

They correlated these findings with Reid Ewing/Smart Growth America's ranking of sprawl in major US metropolitan areas.  This ranking considered residential density, land use mix, degree of centering, and street accessibility. 

The result:  an increase in sprawl from one standard deviation less to one standard deviation more than average led to 96 more chronic medical problems per 1000 residents, which is approximately similar to an aging of the population of 4 years.  No correlation was found between sprawl and mental health.

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Frumkin 2003 - “Healthy Places: Exploring the Evidence”

Frumkin, Howard
“Healthy Places: Exploring the Evidence”
American Journal of Public Health
September 2003; v.93, n.9; pp1451-1456
On the web
Relevance: low

Frumkin looks at evidence supporting the importance of place and a “sense of place”. Four aspects of the built environment offer promising opportunities for health research: nature contact (e.g. trees, ponds, flowers), buildings (better building design to avoid “sick buildings”), public places (e.g. streets and sidewalks, parks and cafes, theaters and sports facilities), and urban form (design, transportation, and land use decisions at a larger scale than buildings and public places).

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Semenza 2003 - "The Intersection of Urban Planning, Art, and Public Health: The Sunnyside Piazza"

Semenza, Jan C
"The Intersection of Urban Planning, Art, and Public Health: The Sunnyside Piazza"
American Journal of Public Health
September 2003, v.93, n9; pp1439-1441
On the Web
Relevance: low

In 2001 residents of the Sunnyside neighborhood in Portland, OR transformed a central intersection into the Sunnyside Piazza, a public gathering place. A small survey and observations indicate that residents of Sunnyside have higher satisfaction with their neighborhood, better sense of community, and better health than residents of adjacent neighborhoods.

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