The perception of urban environmental quality is an important contributor when identifying local problems in sustainable development and environmental planning policy. A citizen science study lead by Professor Regina Grazuleviciene, from the Department of Environmental Science of the Vytautas Magnus University, in the framework of the Horizon 2020 CitieS-Health project, examined the associations between environmental and social residential characteristics, physical activity, obesity, and hypertension in Kaunas city, Lithuania.

Imagen: Spatial distribution of the perception of air pollution and the prevalence of hypertension in Kaunas (Lithuania).

Less physically active group related to lower quality of pathways and cycling routes

Through a cross-sectional study the researchers analyzed 580 citizens’ demographic-, socioeconomic-, health-, and lifestyle-related factors, environmental health concerns, and environmental quality perceptions. Using Geographic Information Systems and the multivariate logistic regression, the researchers found that the less physically active group more often presented lower than mean ratings of the quality of pathways and cycling routes (32.9% and 45.6%) and only irregularly visited the natural environment. Obese participants presented poorer ratings of air pollution, the quality of pathways and cycling routes, their possibility to reach green spaces by walking, and the available relaxing areas. The environmental issues associated with hypertension were poor possibilities to reach green spaces by walking and the availability of relaxation areas. The quality of the neighbourhood and individual-level characteristics were the factors that influenced a higher prevalence of health problems at the district level. “Our findings in this project of suggest that a public health policy to improve the physical and social environment of the neighbourhood would have a potential to increase citizens’ physical activity and health”, explained Prof. Grazuleviciene.