Today, 60% of adult Canadians live with chronic disease and 80% of them are at risk of developing one. Right here in Peel, 62% of adults are overweight or obese, while one in six has diabetes.
In principle, turning these trends seems simple: people need to move more and eat healthier. In fact, physical activity and healthy eating are to a large extent "invented" by our daily lives.
For example, an officer at Peal can usually spend eight hours a day in a jam job, sit two more hours while traveling and having a fast food dinner instead of a healthy meal, because the first one is much more convenient and affordable – all factors , deeply influenced by the neighborhood's design. Even if this person worked in the gym for one hour each night, the evidence suggests that this is not enough to cancel out the negative health effects of the rest of the day.
Considering that often sedentary work and traveling to work, it is perhaps not surprising that a large proportion of Canadian adults, 85%, do not even meet the minimum recommended levels of physical activity. While "healthy lifestyles" are commonly regarded as a matter of personal choice and will, the population data tells a different story: where you live impacts how you move and eat.
Studies have shown that residents in many car-dependent areas are significantly more likely to be overweight than those living in mobile communities. Residents of many passive communities (neighborhoods with nearby shops and services, convenient public transport and well-connected streets) often use "active transport" like walking and cycling to get jobs and run daily orders. Over time, these residents are more likely to maintain healthier weight and suffer from fewer chronic illnesses.
The Peel region again recreates how community design can support better health outcomes.
Our 20-year vision, the "Community of Life", calls for the creation of healthy, full-fledged communities that seek, bike, transit, and eat healthy foods. Our innovative framework for healthy development assesses the desire for new developments and makes recommendations for improving their health promotion potential.
Working in partnership with Mississauga, Brampton City and Caledon City, the region leads dozens of projects to design healthy communities and achieve our goal of 50% sustainable transport in the morning until 2041.
Learn more about our work at www.peelregion.ca/health/resources/healthbydesign/,
Dr. Jessica Hopkins is the medical healthcare worker, Peil Region – Public HealthFor more information or to contact Peel Public Health, please visit peelregion.ca/health.