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July 14, 2011 / Omar J. Peters

Cities and Health

Recently, a couple of articles have been released on studies looking at the effects of the built environment on health. And interestingly they are in conflict (at least on the surface).

The first is on mental health and explains that urbanites are more prone to stress:

“Imaging scans show that in city dwellers or people who grew up in urban areas, certain areas of the brain react more vigorously to stress. That may help explain how city life can boost the risks of schizophrenia and other mental disorders, researchers said.”

Another says when looking at rural, urban and suburban areas, urbanites come in second after suburbanites on the race to health:

“To be sure, city dwellers live with more air pollution and violent crime. They also have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and low-birth-weight babies and are more likely to drink excessively.”

“In many measures, residents of suburban areas are the best off. They generally rate their own health the highest and have the fewest premature deaths than either their urban or rural counterparts. Suburbanites also have the fewest low-birth-weight babies, homicides and sexually transmitted diseases.”

And according to this article, a third study reverses this and says that city dwellers are healthier because:

“No matter which country you are in, new research finds those who live in an urban neighborhood are twice as likely to be physically active the those in the suburbs.”

So which is it?


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