Poor diet linked to bad planning
Published 21/03/2011 | 05:00
POOR diet and health have been linked to bad planning decisions in a new study by the Economic and Social Research Institute, writes Eilish O'Regan.
Housing estates, which were built on the outskirts of cities and towns with poor access to supermarkets, are likely to have damaged people's health, the research found.
Living closer to a large supermarket contributes to the quality of people's diet, which in turn reduces their chances of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
Researcher Richard Layte of the ESRI, who led the study, based his findings on analysing how distance from food outlets influenced the diet of 10,364 people who took part in the Department of Health's Slan survey of 2007.
"What this shows is that our urban planning and retail planning over the last 40 years may have had a negative effect on our health," Mr Layte said.
Being closer to a larger supermarket contributed to diet quality, with more access to fresh fruit and vegetables, he said.
A lot of health service work had been around health promotion, he said, but more focus needed to be on the context and influence of the environment.
"If you want people to be healthier providing an environment helps. The environment in which people live is not looked at in much detail in Ireland," Mr Layte added.
The study is published in the 'Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health'.