Recent studies emphasize to build more compact cities. Short distances to facilities and public transport may encourage walking and cycling, and as such have important population health impact.

The Netherlands has a specific context for the study of the relation between the built environment and health: cities are already compact and the infrastructure for walking and cycling is relatively good according to global standards. A recent MINDMAP related study showed that in a compact, densely populated city in The Netherlands, increased residential density was associated with a higher risk of mortality. Although the health-enhancing impact of more active transport among those living in more densely populated neighbourhoods compensated part of this effect, overall, higher density remained associated with a higher risk of mortality.

Making cities more compact, but neglecting the importance of a good infrastructure may increase the negative impact of higher residential density on health.

The study is published in the leading journal ‘Health and Place’ . Click here