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  • Research by Imperial College London.
  • Aimed to understand how the health of secondary school children in the UK is influenced by the characteristics of the physical and virtual places in which they spend their time.
  • Ran focus groups with teenagers, analysed survey data and Department for Education data, and used geospatial databases and innovative mathematical network analytical approaches.

Children split their time between multiple places and communities, both physical and virtual (online), and each of these places influences their health – sometimes positively, sometimes negatively.

Spending time in places that generate less healthy influences on children may hinder their knowledge and skills development (human capital) and be a barrier to economic productivity and social development in those places.

This project by Imperial College London looked at how the health of children aged 11 to 19 is influenced by the characteristics of the places they spend their time.

The study assessed which places generate the most important influences on children; how place-based health influences can be characterised and measured; and whether meaningful concepts and measures of social and economic development of places can be identified.

The project team actively engaged with teenagers through focus groups.

The study applied novel approaches, combining spatial databases on health-relevant place-based characteristics, advanced geospatial methods, routinely collected population-level educational attainment information from the Department for Education, and the newest developments in mathematical modelling.

The results will set the foundation for future research linking place-based measures of health with place-based social and economic outcomes. This will strengthen the public health approach to health promotion, emphasising the social and economic value, in addition to the health value of actions aimed at making living environments more conducive to healthy lives.

The project will provide evidence to policymakers as to which health-related aspects of the environment impact educational attainment and consequent social and economic outcomes.

Contact information

For more information, please contact Daniela Fecht, Lecturer in Geospatial Health, Imperial College London.

About this programme

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