Urban health is strongly linked to mental illness, being overweight, smoking behaviors, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and coronary disease; most of these are chronic diseases/conditions. Healthy Cities and Cittaslow are urban initiatives that acknowledge the importance of such societal and cultural contexts and factors as social determinants of health, whereas the more commonly considered factors such as access and use of health care services often have less impact. Changes in social environment and lifestyle are now major determinants of risk and disease at all ages. Based on the principles of Healthy Cities and Cittaslow, this research aimed to establish comparisons and formulate plausible hypotheses for the relationship between healthy cities and chronic diseases/conditions. It is a qualitative observational and comparative study from a socio-anthropological perspective carried out in five cities. Improved capacity of local communities to identify and address problems could be the best outcome from Healthy Cities and Cittaslow. The capacity to change urban environments and social habits to ones that promote a healthier lifestyle may help to lessen the impact of chronic diseases/conditions.
Environmental Practice 17: 16–24 (2015)