Healthy environments need to be created that enable easy access to healthy and nutritious food. Cities in an increasingly urbanising world are ideal places for such transformation. Current public health strategies fail to effectively promote adequate nutrition in populations because they focus on individuals’ behaviours and choices without addressing larger influences such as food cultures and food systems.
The Caribbean region has identified chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as a major threat to population health, social and economic development, and has made a concerted commitment to address this problem through a comprehensive, multi-sectoral response that includes urban planning. To inform their efforts and accelerate action, we are historians and public health researchers and aim to identify the ways cities in low and middle-income countries impact on their populations’ food practices, opportunities and in turn health.
We aim to develop an in-depth understanding of underlying mechanisms that have led to both ‘unhealthy’ spaces (e.g. fast food dense neighbourhoods) or ‘healthy’ spaces (e.g. urban gardens). By investigating how these social, political and economic determinants of nutrition have developed historically and shaped into contemporary foodscapes, the goal of our project is to inform the prevention of chronic diseases by enhancing healthy eating strategies.
The project is funded by the MRC AHRC Global Public Health Partnership Awards Scheme (MR/R024324/1).