LivingWhat is a heart-healthy neighborhood?

What is a heart-healthy neighborhood?

We know very well the importance of avoiding alcohol and tobacco, eating correctly or practicing sports to enjoy good health. However, the relationship that exists between the environment in which we live and these habits generally goes unnoticed.

For example, if we have a park or a running track close to home, it will be easier for us to go out for a run and manage to maintain that habit over time. If in our neighborhood there is a good network of small businesses that offer fresh and seasonal products, we will also have a better chance of eating healthily.

The Heart Healthy Hoods project, in which the University of Alcalá de Henares and the University of Salamanca participate, is a European initiative that aims to evaluate, from a multidisciplinary point of view, the relationship between the appearance of cardiovascular diseases , determined in part by the lifestyle, with the type of neighborhood in which you live.

Can your neighborhood affect your cardiovascular health?

The project aims to analyze the relationship between the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, food and physical activity with the social structure of three neighborhoods of different socio-economic level. The pilot experience has started in Madrid, a city with a historical and demographic profile similar to that of many other European cities. The next step will be to correlate the results with the primary care cardiovascular health records.

The study consisted of conducting 36 interviews and 29 discussion groups where various issues related to urban health were addressed : general vision of the neighborhood where you live (transport, health services, cleaning services, etc.), perception of it. in relation to health (for example, having enough parks or green spaces), opinion about the consumption of tobacco and alcohol in the neighborhood, individual and social eating habits, evolution of the diet in the neighborhood, shops and way of shopping, individual physical activity and determining factors for physical activity.


Food and neighborhood shops

The results showed that, for example, a common perception in all the studied neighborhoods was the disappearance of the small business, the “one of all life” . It was also found that, in general, information regarding healthy eating has increased greatly, although in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic profiles, job insecurity and the impoverishment of the population make access to food more difficult and reduce the quality of health. diet. In addition, the appearance of illegal food distribution channels (food “top blankets”) has been found in the most disadvantaged neighborhood included in the study. In this neighborhood, in addition, Latino gangs occupy sports spaces in the neighborhood and limit the use by the rest of the neighbors. Dirt, insecurity and inaccessible streets are elements that also concern neighbors and that would be limiting the use of public space.

Alcohol and tobacco

As for alcohol, its consumption on the terraces is generally well regarded and is understood as a means of socializing. When consumption is carried out on public roads, it is negatively perceived as a collective problem and is associated with the phenomenon of the bottle.

With regard to the terraces, there is a double perception regarding tobacco: on the one hand it is positive, since the concentration of smokers in the same space has decreased but, in turn, the terraces have become the new smoking areas that sometimes become a nuisance for non-smokers in the three neighborhoods analyzed.

More information and scientific publications can be found on the Heart Healthy Hoods project website

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