Special Issue "A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Ms. Ingrid Stegeman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
EuroHealthNet, Brussels, Belgium
Interests: Health inequalities; social determinants of health; HiAP; sustainable development; early child development; capacity building for health promotion
Dr. Tim Taylor
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, Truro Campus, UK
Interests: Ecological public health, Cost-benefit analysis, Environmental economics, Housing and health, Climate change
Prof. Patrick Saunders
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Visiting Professor of Public Health University of Staffordshire, Director carolan57 Ltd, Associate Director WHO Collaborating Centre for the Public Health Management of Chemical Exposures
Interests: Inequalities, air quality, epidemiology, toxicology, contaminated land

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues

Our societies appear to be locked into patterns of human behaviour that damage the environment, undermine health and wellbeing and fuel health inequalities. In addition, lower socio-economic groups, who suffer the most from the consequences of pollution and environmental change, benefit least from measures being taken to address these problems.

Despite concerns about the effects of how people are currently living, there has been insufficient attention paid to exploring the potential of behaviour change when seeking solutions in environment and health. People’s lifestyles and behaviours are firmly rooted in social, economic and physical contexts. Changing these contexts, to ensure they sustain rather than undermine health and well-being, can only be achieved through more coherent approaches across policy and practice. Such approaches are also needed to address common challenges like environmental degradation, the rise in chronic diseases and the growth of inequalities.

INHERIT is an ambitious translational research project (Jan 2016 –Dec 2019) funded under the EU Horizon 2020 Programme. 18 partners are investigating effective inter-sectoral policies, interventions and innovations that enable and empower citizens to behave in ways that simultaneously improve the environment, health and contribute to reducing health inequalities - the INHERIT ‘triple-win’ (www.inherit.eu). INHERIT covers the areas of living (green space, energy efficient housing), moving (active transport) and consuming (food).

How can we implement more cross-cutting initiatives in a variety of contexts and help Europe pave the path to a more sustainable and healthier future for all? This special edition will showcase outcomes from different strands of INHERIT’s work to advance knowledge in relation to: 1) the role of lifestyles and behaviours; 2) strengthening governance and inter-sectoral collaboration; and 3) ensuring that initiatives reach disadvantaged socioeconomic groups. We also invite contributions from other relevant research initiatives that focus on what works to ensure more sustainable and healthier futures for all, with a specific focus on any of these cross-cutting themes.

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Ms. Ingrid Stegeman
Dr. Tim Taylor
Prof. Patrick Saunders
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Health promotion and prevention
  • Environment
  • Social determinants of health
  • Lifestyle and behaviour change
  • Inter-sectoral collaboration
  • Health inequalities
  • Active travel
  • Energy efficient housing
  • Green space
  • Food production and consumption

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Equity, Health, and Sustainability with PROVE: The Evaluation of a Portuguese Program for a Short Distance Supply Chain of Fruits and Vegetables
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 5083; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245083 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
PROVE is a Portuguese program that empowers small-scale farmers organized into local networks to directly commercialize baskets of locally produced fruits and vegetables to consumers. This study applied a post-test-only non-equivalent group design to evaluate the resulting influence on the social empowerment of [...] Read more.
PROVE is a Portuguese program that empowers small-scale farmers organized into local networks to directly commercialize baskets of locally produced fruits and vegetables to consumers. This study applied a post-test-only non-equivalent group design to evaluate the resulting influence on the social empowerment of farmers and on consumer diets. The method included conducting a survey of PROVE farmers (n = 36) and a survey of PROVE consumers (n = 294) that were compared against matched samples of Portuguese respondents of international surveys (European Social Survey, n = 36 and the INHERIT Five-Country Survey, n = 571, respectively). PROVE farmers reported higher scores for perceived influence on the work environment than the national sample. PROVE consumers were more likely to eat five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day in comparison to the matched sample of Portuguese citizens (average odds ratio: 3.05, p < 0.05). Being a PROVE consumer also generated an impact on the likelihood of consuming no more than two portions of red meat a week (average odds ratio: 1.56, p < 0.05). The evaluation study suggests that the promotion of short supply chains of fruits and vegetables can make a positive contribution to a healthier, more sustainable, and fairer future in food consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
Open AccessArticle
Addressing Inequity: Evaluation of an Intervention to Improve Accessibility and Quality of a Green Space
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 5015; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245015 - 10 Dec 2019
Abstract
Green space areas offer several benefits that support our physical, psychological, and social health. However, the level of engagement with green space areas may not be the same across population groups. Using a mixed-method research design, we investigated the use of a green [...] Read more.
Green space areas offer several benefits that support our physical, psychological, and social health. However, the level of engagement with green space areas may not be the same across population groups. Using a mixed-method research design, we investigated the use of a green space area and whether and how the area was beneficial for health, social inclusion, and physical activity for all socioeconomic groups in a suburban area in Norway. The study showed significantly increased use of the area from 2015–2018 and that users belonged to different socioeconomic groups. The motivation for using the area was the opportunity to experience nature and to interact socially. While no significant changes in self-rated health, life satisfaction, or levels of physical activity were found, the study indicates that factors such as location, availability, and designated places for social interaction are important motivating factors for use. Users from the lower socioeconomic groups were among the frequent users but were also the least satisfied with the quality and availability of the path. Our findings call for closer consideration of the location and availability of green spaces and that including places for social interaction and relaxation can contribute to increased use of green spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
Open AccessArticle
Ten Lessons for Good Practice for the INHERIT Triple Win: Health, Equity, and Environmental Sustainability
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4546; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224546 - 17 Nov 2019
Abstract
The world’s challenges of climate change, damage to ecosystems, and social and health inequalities require changes in human behaviours at every level of organisation, among governments, business, communities, and individuals. An important question is how behaviour change can be enabled and supported at [...] Read more.
The world’s challenges of climate change, damage to ecosystems, and social and health inequalities require changes in human behaviours at every level of organisation, among governments, business, communities, and individuals. An important question is how behaviour change can be enabled and supported at the scale and speed required. The research reported in this paper describes important lessons for good practice in changing contexts to modify behaviours for a triple win for health, equity and environmental sustainability. Authors synthesised learning from qualitative, quantitative and cost benefit evaluations of 15 case studies conducted in 12 countries in Europe. The case studies address ways of living (green spaces and energy efficient housing), moving (active transport) and consuming (healthy and sustainable diets) that support the triple win. Ten lessons for good practice were identified. These include bringing a triple win mindset to policy and practice in planning interventions, with potential to improve environmental sustainability, health and equity at the same time. The lessons for good practice are intended to support governmental and non-governmental actors, practitioners and researchers planning to work across sectors to achieve mutual benefits for health and environmental sustainability and in particular to benefit poorer and more socio-economically disadvantaged groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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Open AccessArticle
Lifestyle E-Coaching for Physical Activity Level Improvement: Short-Term and Long-Term Effectivity in Low Socioeconomic Status Groups
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4427; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224427 - 12 Nov 2019
Abstract
E-coaching applications can improve people’s lifestyles; however, their impact on people from a lower socioeconomic status (low SES) is unknown. This study investigated the effectiveness of a lifestyle e-coaching application in encouraging people facing low SES disadvantages to engage in a more active [...] Read more.
E-coaching applications can improve people’s lifestyles; however, their impact on people from a lower socioeconomic status (low SES) is unknown. This study investigated the effectiveness of a lifestyle e-coaching application in encouraging people facing low SES disadvantages to engage in a more active lifestyle over a course of 19 weeks. In this bicountry study, 95 people with low activity level (GR: 50, NL: 45) used a mobile application linked to a wearable activity tracker. At the start and after 6 and 19 weeks, self-reported physical activity levels, attitudes, and intention towards increasing activity levels, perceived behavioral control, and wellbeing were measured. Results indicated that participants using the lifestyle e-coaching application reported significantly more often an increase in activity levels than a parallel control group. Additionally, the people using the application also more often reported increased levels of wellbeing and perceived behavioral control. Therefore, lifestyle e-coaching applications could be a cost-effective solution for promoting healthier lifestyles in low-SES populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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Open AccessArticle
An Empirical Study of the Impact of Social Interaction on Public Pro-Environmental Behavior
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4405; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224405 - 11 Nov 2019
Abstract
Public pro-environmental behavior plays a positive role in solving environmental pollution problems. In a real socioeconomic system, because public pro-environmental behavior has characteristics of externality and interactivity, a number of factors, such as external information and the behavior of others, could affect the [...] Read more.
Public pro-environmental behavior plays a positive role in solving environmental pollution problems. In a real socioeconomic system, because public pro-environmental behavior has characteristics of externality and interactivity, a number of factors, such as external information and the behavior of others, could affect the pro-environmental behavior of individuals who optimize their own strategies by interacting with the outside world; thus, public pro-environmental behavior and social interaction are very closely related. In order to study the impact of social interaction on public pro-environmental behavior and its mechanisms, the authors of this paper conducted an empirical study based on an Ordinary Least Square (OLS) regression model and data from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS). The empirical results show that: (1) social interaction has a promoting effect on public environmental protection behavior, and social interaction has a more significant impact on private environmental protection behavior; (2) the public will not only adjust their own environmental protection behavior by directly observing the behavior of others, they will also obtain environmental protection knowledge through social interactions which thus have a positive impact on their behavior. It is of great practical significance to study the impact of social interactions on public pro-environmental behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of Small Area Environmental, Socioeconomic and Health Data in Collaboration with Local Communities to Target and Evaluate ‘Triple Win’ Interventions in a Deprived Community in Birmingham UK
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4331; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224331 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
The contemporary environment is a complex of interactions between physical, biological and socioeconomic systems with major impacts on public health. It is well understood that deprived communities are more exposed to negative environmental and social factors, more susceptible to the effects of those [...] Read more.
The contemporary environment is a complex of interactions between physical, biological and socioeconomic systems with major impacts on public health. It is well understood that deprived communities are more exposed to negative environmental and social factors, more susceptible to the effects of those exposures, more excluded from access to positive factors, less able to change their circumstances and consequently experience worse health, economic and social outcomes compared to the more affluent. Welsh House Farm estate in Birmingham is one of the most deprived areas in Europe. An alliance between a local charity, City Council Public Health and a University in collaboration with the local community has accessed, analysed and mapped a range of health, social and economic factors at small area level, identifying areas where the community experience is unacceptably worse than other parts of Birmingham and therefore requiring targeted interventions. We make specific recommendations for coordinated action addressing the living, moving and consuming domains of residents’ lives and have also identified positive aspects of life on the estate to celebrate. This pilot demonstrates the utility and cost-effectiveness of local collaboration to identify and target health, environmental and social inequalities informed by local concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of a School Based Intervention on Children’s Physical Activity and Healthy Eating: A Mixed-Methods Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4320; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224320 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
Combined diet and physical activity school-based interventions (rather than only diet or physical activity interventions) are more likely to help prevent children from becoming overweight in the long term. However, such interventions are less prevalent, and therefore, this pilot study aimed to assess [...] Read more.
Combined diet and physical activity school-based interventions (rather than only diet or physical activity interventions) are more likely to help prevent children from becoming overweight in the long term. However, such interventions are less prevalent, and therefore, this pilot study aimed to assess the feasibility of a gardening intervention coupled with awareness about plant-based meals among 9−10 year old children in a London primary school. We recruited 60 children from two Year 5 classes, one class participated as an intervention group, and results were compared against another class who acted as the control group. Children’s physical activity (PA) was measured using GENEActiv wrist-worn accelerometers. Their fruit and vegetable intake and attitudes to and preferences in eating fruits and vegetables were measured using a self-report questionnaire. Furthermore, three focus groups were held with children in the intervention group to understand the reasons behind any change as a result of the intervention. Results are inconclusive; however, they indicate some impact on reduction of sedentary behaviour, increase of moderate to vigorous PA, knowledge of nutrition and some level of acceptance in trying new vegetables. School-based interventions involving gardening show some promise to increase children’s PA and improve their attitudes to eating fruits and vegetables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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Open AccessArticle
European Rural Development Policy Approaching Health Issues: An Exploration of Programming Schemes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2973; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162973 - 18 Aug 2019
Abstract
Malnutrition, obesity, type 2 diabetes, micronutrient deficiencies, and the increase in non-communicable diseases are among the future European key challenges in health and welfare. Agriculture and rural development policies can positively contribute to a healthier and nutritious supply of food. The objective of [...] Read more.
Malnutrition, obesity, type 2 diabetes, micronutrient deficiencies, and the increase in non-communicable diseases are among the future European key challenges in health and welfare. Agriculture and rural development policies can positively contribute to a healthier and nutritious supply of food. The objective of the research is to analyze to what extent European 2007–2013 and 2014–2020 rural development programmes address the nexus between agriculture, food, health, and nutrition to respond to the evolving dietary needs. The research carries out a quali-quantitative content analysis on all 210 European rural development programmes. Results show that the interconnection between agriculture, food, health, and nutrition is present, with differences in the European agricultural and rural policy programming periods. The main interlinking issues of the nexus are food safety, food quality, diseases, nutritional aspect, animal health and welfare, plant health, and environmental health. Healthier and nutritious food-related issues are emerging, addressing dietary needs, and sustaining consumer food trends. Healthy and nutritious food is pursued by combating foodborne communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases. The future Common Agricultural Policy, including its rural dimensions, should support the consumption of healthy foods produced in ways that are environmentally and economically sustainable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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Open AccessArticle
The INHERIT Model: A Tool to Jointly Improve Health, Environmental Sustainability and Health Equity through Behavior and Lifestyle Change
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(7), 1435; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15071435 - 07 Jul 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
The need for analysis and action across the interrelated domains of human behaviors and lifestyles, environmental sustainability, health and inequality is increasingly apparent. Currently, these areas are often not considered in conjunction when developing policies or interventions, introducing the potential for suboptimal or [...] Read more.
The need for analysis and action across the interrelated domains of human behaviors and lifestyles, environmental sustainability, health and inequality is increasingly apparent. Currently, these areas are often not considered in conjunction when developing policies or interventions, introducing the potential for suboptimal or conflicting outcomes. The INHERIT model has been developed within the EU-funded project INHERIT as a tool to guide thinking and intersectoral action towards changing the behaviors and lifestyles that play such an important role in today’s multidisciplinary challenges. The model integrates ecological public health and behavioral change models, emphasizing inequalities and those parts of the causal process that are influenced by human behaviors and lifestyles. The model was developed through web-based and live discussions with experts and policy stakeholders. To test the model’s usability, the model was applied to aspects of food consumption. This paper shows that the INHERIT model can serve as a tool to identify opportunities for change in important −food-related behaviors and lifestyles and to examine how they impact on health, health inequalities, and the environment in Europe and beyond. The INHERIT model helps clarify these interrelated domains, creating new opportunities to improve environmental health and health inequality, while taking our planetary boundaries into consideration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Urban Green Space: Creating a Triple Win for Environmental Sustainability, Health, and Health Equity through Behavior Change
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4403; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224403 - 11 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Urbanization, costs of green space maintenance, and diminishing connection between people and nature all exert pressures on urban green space. This is regrettable as green space has the potential to create wins for environmental sustainability, health, and health equity. This paper explores this [...] Read more.
Urbanization, costs of green space maintenance, and diminishing connection between people and nature all exert pressures on urban green space. This is regrettable as green space has the potential to create wins for environmental sustainability, health, and health equity. This paper explores this potential triple win and investigates how to increase the use of urban green space through behavior change. A narrative literature review was conducted and was supplemented with literature suggested by experts. Results show that creating well-designed green spaces and stimulating people to use them can indeed deliver this triple win. Providing accessible, attractive, well-maintained green space with room for socialization, and where people feel safe, may increase the opportunity and motivation of people to use it more often. Informing and educating people and organizing activities may increase capability (and motivation) to use green space. Since the use of green space depends on life stage, lifestyle factors and individual values, it is important to involve potential users in its design. We recommend a specific focus on those groups who may benefit most from the use of green space. More evaluation is needed to inform effective green space interventions and to assess related economic, social, and environmental benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A More Sustainable and Healthier Future for All: What Works?)
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