NHS England has announced plans to build 10 “healthy new towns” across the country, which will promote healthy living, combat obesity, and provide dementia-friendly living spaces for the elderly.
According to Mashable, the communities will promote healthier lifestyle choices simply by making it easier to live healthily. That is, instead of traffic-congested streets with no bike lanes, the towns will be bike friendly; instead of fast food restaurants lining the streets, they’ll have fast food-free zones.
Plans for the towns will include more than 76,000 new homes with room for 170,000 residents in total.
“The much-needed push to kick start affordable housing across England creates a golden opportunity for the NHS to help promote health and keep people independent,” explains NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens on the service's website. “As these new neighbourhoods and towns are built, we’ll kick ourselves if in ten years time we look back having missed the opportunity to ‘design out’ the obesogenic environment, and ‘design in’ health and wellbeing.”
According to the NHS, obesity has become a major epidemic in Britain, due in part to sedentary lifestyles. Physical inactivity has been linked to one in six deaths in the UK, and only 21 percent of children play outdoors. One of the main purposes of the new healthy towns initiative is to provide free spaces for children and adults to exercise.
“We want children to have places where they want to play with friends and can safely walk or cycle to school,” says Stevens. “And we want new ways of providing new types of digitally-enabled local health services that share physical infrastructure and staff with schools and community groups.”