Bartlett Researchers Win Early Career Research Prize with Environmental Health Study
1 February 2023
Dr Kimon Krenz, Dr Ashley Dhanani, and Prof Laura Vaughan’s research, published in The Lancet and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, studies how the places where we live can impact our health.
The research, titled ‘Linking the Urban Environment and Health’, was carried out in Bradford, in collaboration with the Bradford Institute of Health Research. The study gathers information about how the built environment influences our health. Environmental exposures are defined and determined by combining detailed metrics about the specifics of an area with geolocation data from GP records on where and how long a person has lived there, modelling their local neighbourhood, and – using space syntax methods – the probable routes to key urban functions aggregated across the city. The method considers a variety of factors, including but not limited to air quality, types of food available nearby, walkability or access to bus stops, and structural and internal dwelling qualities, to build up a full picture of a person’s environment, and is linked to information from the Born In Bradford research study, and the Connected Bradford database, which carries data about primary, secondary, social and community care. The resulting datasets will enable detailed examination of how environments can affect health outcomes.
This method has been used in a related research project for ActEarly (an organisation focusing on early-life changes in areas with high child poverty, including Bradford), for which Dr Krenz won the Poster Presentation Prize after presenting the research at the Public Health Science conference’s Early Career Researcher Prizes 2022. 'Exploring relationships between exposure to fast food outlets and childhood obesity at differing spatial resolutions' examines the link between childhood obesity and exposure to fast food outlets.
Prior research on this has produced ambiguous results; collaborating with the Bradford Institute of Health Research, the Bartlett researchers used the dataset to ask whether people’s environments had, essentially, been described inaccurately. The research pointed toward food culture and eating habits in a child’s home, and excess maternal weight during pregnancy, rather than prevalence of nearby fast food outlets, as key influencers in childhood obesity, indicating that more work is needed before policies to ban fast food outlets can be deemed useful.
Dr Kimon Krenz is a Research Associate at the Space Syntax Laboratory at The Bartlett School of Architecture, and a dissertation supervisor for Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities MSc/MRes. Dr Laura Vaughan is Professor of Urban Form and Society and the Director of the Space Syntax Laboratory. She has taught on Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities MSc/MRes since 2001, and leads the Spatial Justice module. Dr Ashley Dhanani is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow.
- Read the research paper in The Lancet
- Read the research paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
- Learn more about the Born In Bradford research study
- Learn more about ActEarly
- Find out more about Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities MSc/MRes
Image: Street Network Closeness Centrality: Measuring how close an address is to other things in the city within 1km in Bradford, north of England. © OS and Crown copyright 2022