Healthy Cities

Healthy Cities

Public Health through Urban Planning

Chinmoy Sarkar, Chris Webster and John Gallacher

Mounting scientific evidence generated over the past decade highlights the significant role of our cities’ built environments in shaping our health and well-being. In this book, the authors conceptualize the ‘urban health niche’ as a novel approach to public health and healthy-city planning that integrates the diverse and multi-level health determinants present in a city system.

Chapter 9: Conclusion

Chinmoy Sarkar, Chris Webster and John Gallacher

Subjects: environment, environmental geography, geography, cities, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics, urban and regional studies, cities, urban studies


We have presented in this book much of the mounting research evidence that now exists of the significant associations between urban morphology and public health. This was a relationship that began to be explored scientifically in earnest from the second half of the nineteenth century, and it was a key driver in shaping the modern urban planning movement and profession. For much of the twentieth century, city planners in the West had lost touch with their public health roots. That is now changing, as we have traversed a full circle, with among other things an epidemic of obesity and cardiovascular problems endemic to sedentary urban lifestyles and a demographic health care time bomb that amplifies the problems. It is now widely recognized that health outcomes as well as the success of clinical interventions are shaped by context; more precisely by the attributes of socio-economic, built and natural environments. This book endeavours to examine the basic question: how do physiological, socio-demographic, built and natural environmental factors combine to produce specific socio-spatial distributions of health in a city? More specifically, does the city's built environment - its configuration and design as well as the distribution of services within it - influence our cognition, behaviour and lifestyle and thereby the health of its citizens?

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