Statistic shows that poor people generally have more health issues than wealthy people. However, a recent study by UC San Francisco has uncovered that the quality of a neighborhood where people live has an impact on people’s health, too. Poor children living in a good neighborhood have better health than poor children living in a run-down neighborhood.
Researchers from UCSF Department of Psychiatry compared levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 338 kindergartners from families with low income. “Cortisol is a measure of biological stress arousal, and elevated levels can place children at risk for both poorer physical and mental health,” explained the study’s first author Danielle Roubinov, PhD.
Image: Children playing on a neighborhood playground (source).
Good Urban Design Helps Children Live Healthier
Researchers found that children living in a good quality neighborhoods had lower cortisol levels and less health problems when compared to children living in bad quality neighborhoods. The quality of neighborhoods was determined by various factors. Many of those factors can be influenced by good urban planning and design. For example, access to green spaces, exposure to environmental toxins, availability of early childhood education centers and grocery stores selling healthy food.
“Initiatives such as supportive social services, efforts to improve neighborhood safety and housing quality, and redesigning parks and open spaces may offer physiological and physical benefits.” said Roubinov.
UCSF’s study shows that good urban design really influences people’s lives in a positive way. Living in an area that provides them with good stimulation can make a real difference in children’s lives.
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons