The environments where people live and work may be linked to health, according to S.V. Subramanian, associate professor of society, human development, and health at the Harvard School of Public Health and a researcher at the Center for Population and Development Studies. In a new three-year study, he’ll be probing health statistics for answers to such questions as how health outcomes change as people move around the country, and when healthy behavior is formed in children. He’ll also map the locations of businesses that can have negative or positive effects on health, such as fast-food restaurants and health clubs, and overlay them with health statistics and demographic data to create a picture of health and location. The findings may ultimately provide new insights into whether health interventions are more effective at the personal or population level.
“What are the things that we can change about a place without having to move the people?” Subramanian said in the Harvard Gazette. “It’s an interesting public policy question: Should interventions be at the person level or a higher level, a school or neighborhood?”