Health legacies of London 2012
What is the long-term legacy for health of the London 2012 Games and associated urban regeneration?
This week, architects, planners, designers and developers joined public health professionals and policy makers at London’s City Hall for the Fit Cities - Fit World 2013 international conference hosted by the Mayor of London.
On Day 1, Monday 18 March, delegates discussed how building design and policy decisions can make communities healthier, helping prevent diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
In the afternoon session, ‘Gathering the evidence that active design works’, Professor Steven Cummins of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine presented work in progress on the Olympics and Regeneration in East London (ORIEL) project, an in-depth longitudinal study into whether and how social factors for health and well-being among local residents have improved as a result of new facilities, job opportunities, transport infrastructure, green spaces and other developments.
ORIEL, funded over five years by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), involves partners at Queen Mary, University of London and the University of East London. Beginning in 2011, the researchers collected baseline data from around 3,000 children aged 11-12 and their parents, and participants were followed up early in 2013, six months after the Games.
Focusing on health, well-being, physical activity, socioeconomic factors and residents’ perceptions of the impact of local changes, the findings are being compared with data collected from nearby urban areas outside the Olympic regeneration zone. The participants will be followed up again early in 2014 and will form a cohort for a longitudinal study of how any socio-economic and health impacts are sustained over time.
The conference, which builds on the highly successful annual Fit City conferences held in New York, was organised in partnership with the Olympic host boroughs, the London Legacy Development Corporation, CABE at the Design Council, the Center for Active Design and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
As partners in the NIHR-funded School for Public Health Research, School researchers led by Karen Lock and Mark Petticrew are working with policy-makers and practitioners in local government to develop new evaluative research to support action on social determinants of health. This research focuses on how decisions are made and policies implemented across a range of policy sectors including regeneration, housing, transport, crime and alcohol licensing. As well as exploring how policymakers understand and use evidence, the team is working on methods involving public health, local government and other stakeholders in evaluating their work based on their needs.
Image top: Olympic Aquatics Centre. Credit: Helen Warren, LSHTM.
Image bottom: Professor Steve Cummins presents at the Fit Cities conference. Credit: LSHTM.