World Cities Day fell on October 31st this year with the theme ‘Better City, Better Life’.
Urbanisation is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 2014, 73% of the European population lived in urban areas. This figure is projected to rise to 82% by 2050. Living in an urban environment can have an adverse impact on one’s health. Unhealthy working conditions, physical inactivity, and a change in travel patterns associated with urban living are examples of risk factors of conditions such as type 2 diabetes. In cities with dense populations, it can be difficult for authorities to deliver the infrastructure and services complementary to healthy living.
Thus, a key urban challenge in Europe is protecting the health of city dwellers. Environmental factors such as pollution, lack of opportunities for physical activity, and vitamin deficiencies can be risk factors for developing diabetes and many other non-communicable diseases. Addressing these environmental, social, and economic determinants of health is important to promoting the health of city inhabitants.
Providing opportunities for physical activity and active, healthy living for urban communities will help tackle the NCD burden in Europe. As the theme of the day suggests, a better city leads to a better life.