The Olympics: a public health opportunity?

THE public health legacy of staging an Olympic Games will be comprehensively assessed for the first time in the wake of the 2012 event in London, experts say.

Hosting the games has provided momentum for huge urban regeneration, with plans to leverage public enthusiasm for the competition into mass participation in physical activity.

Unlike any previous Olympics, next year’s event will be underpinned by a “public health vision” and a commitment to assess health effects that together have the potential to address some of the structural determinants of health, according to a commentary in The Lancet.

However the environmental health experts warned the effect of structural improvements on the health of local populations could take a generation to be felt, and capturing evidence for it will be “slow and costly, but useful”.

Lancet 2011, online 27 July