Healthy urban environments for children and young people: A systematic review of intervention studies

Health Place. 2015 Nov;36:97-117. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2015.09.004. Epub 2015 Oct 27.


This systematic review collates, and presents as a narrative synthesis, evidence from interventions which included changes to the urban environment and reported at least one health behaviour or outcome for children and young people. Following a comprehensive search of six databases, 33 primary studies relating to 27 urban environment interventions were included. The majority of interventions related to active travel. Others included park and playground renovations, road traffic safety, and multi-component community-based initiatives. Public health evidence for effectiveness of such interventions is often weak because study designs tend to be opportunistic, non-randomised, use subjective outcome measures, and do not incorporate follow-up of study participants. However, there is some evidence of potential health benefits to children and young people from urban environment interventions relating to road safety and active travel, with evidence of promise for a multi-component obesity prevention initiative. Future research requires more robust study designs incorporating objective outcome measures.

Keywords: Children; Health outcomes; Systematic review; Urban environment; Young people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Environment Design*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Urban Health*