Book Review: Healthy Cities: Public Health through Urban Planning by Chinmoy Sarkar, Chris Webster, and John Gallacher

By Landry, Sheryl D. | International Social Science Review, Summer-Autumn 2016 | Go to article overview

Book Review: Healthy Cities: Public Health through Urban Planning by Chinmoy Sarkar, Chris Webster, and John Gallacher


Landry, Sheryl D., International Social Science Review


Sarkar, Chinmoy, Chris Webster, and John Gallacher. Healthy Cities: Public Health through Urban Planning. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014. xv + 407 pages. Hardcover, $160.00.

Epidemiology, sociology, economics and health promotion intersect to inform the field of public health. Professors Sarkar, Webster and Gallacher examine how these fields must meet the complicated task of mingling with urban planning and departments of transportation to build healthier cities for all members of our ever-growing urban populations. Through the illustration of many of the significant historical factors of public health in the United Kingdom, they lay the foundation for a healthy city model. Readers are able to understand that where neighborhoods and individuals respond to and have a positive impact upon one another, public health is improved and promoted.

In Chapters 1-3, the authors explore the concept of the healthy city model. The healthy city model is based on the 'urban health niche' in which every individual's health is based on his or her interaction with three inseparable systems: the individual system, the household/neighborhood/city system, and the governing and decision-making system. Chapter 4 is extremely important and useful. It provides significant evidence of Sarkar, Webster and Gallacher's hypothesis that in order to have a positive influence on urban public health--that is, on the health outcomes of the members of the urban population--the ways in which cities are laid out, the designations of land use, the transportation infrastructure, and the delivery of supports and services, must work so well together that barriers to access of the supports and services are removed. Chapter 5 deals with housing, workplace, and neighborhood factors and conditions that impact an individual's physical and mental health. The authors include over 80 pages, comprised of three tables, that summarize: (1) the research on neighborhood-level environmental variables that impact health outcomes,(2) the evidence and key findings from research on the connection between neighborhood-level environmental variables and health outcomes, and (3) the research instruments used to survey and study the correlates between environment and an individual's physical and mental health. …

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