The rapid rise in obesity rates in Canada over the past two decades has led to a call for more effective approaches to assist populations in achieving healthy weights. Research on the health of populations has provided support for the notion that there are relationships between where people live and their health status. To generate and synthesize knowledge in its theme areas of Healthy Weights and Place and Health (with a focus on urban health), CPHI commissioned a systematic literature review of the evidence on associations between modifiable characteristics of urban environments and healthy weights.
The objectives of the report were to review and synthesize the evidence on:
1. structural and community-level characteristics of urban environments that promote or inhibit the achievement of healthy weights, and
2. effectiveness of interventions to assist urban populations in achieving healthy weights.
Research findings were categorized and tabulated within a framework that examines social determinants of health and multiple levels of the environment (i.e. community-level vs. structural). Four outcome areas were considered: obesity/healthy weights, food/diet/nutrition, physical activity and sedentary behaviour. The resulting analyses provide a high-level overview of the strengths of and gaps in the research on associations between urban environments and healthy weights. The report also identifies priorities for future policy-relevant research and presents the authors' suggestions for promising interventions that may help to reduce population obesity levels in urban places.
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