HEALTHY HABITS TURNED LIFESTYLE: LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM GRONINGEN, THE NETHERLANDS
Groningen is the main municipality as well as the capital city of the eponymous province in The Netherlands.
Obesity is thought to be the primary cause of type 2 diabetes in people who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Type 2 diabetes is initially managed by increasing exercise and dietary modification.
Rates of type 2 diabetes have increased markedly over the last 50 years in parallel with obesity: As of 2010 there are approximately 285 million people with the disease compared to around 30 million in 1985.
Long-term complications from high blood sugar can include heart disease, strokes, diabetic retinopathy where eyesight is affected, kidney failure which may require dialysis, and poor circulation of limbs leading to amputations. The acute complication of ketoacidosis, a feature of type 1 diabetes, is uncommon. However, non-ketotic hyperosmolar coma may occur
But a proper diet and exercise are the foundations of diabetic care, with a greater amount of exercise yielding better results. A diabetic diet that promotes weight loss is important. Aerobic exercise leads to a decrease in HbA1c and improved insulin sensitivity. Resistance training is also useful and the combination of both types of exercise may be most effective.
Groningen has been called the “World Cycling City”, since 57% of journeys within the city are made by bicycle. The city is very much adapted to the wishes of those who want to get around without a car, as it has an extensive network of segregated cycle-paths, good public transport, and a large pedestrianized zone in the city centre.
The transformation of the historic centre into a pedestrian priority zone enables and invites walking and biking by making these active modes of transport comfortable, safe and enjoyable. These attributes are accomplished by applying the principle of “filtered permeability”.
It means that the network configuration favours active transportation and selectively, “filters out” the car by reducing the number of streets that run through the centre. While certain streets are discontinuous for cars, they connect to a network of pedestrian and bike paths which permeate the entire centre. In addition, these paths go through public squares and open spaces increasing the enjoyment of the trip.
The logic of filtering a mode of transport is fully expressed in a comprehensive model for laying out neighbourhoods and districts – the Fused Grid.
In the Italian TV programme of investigative journalism “Report” appeared a short film, considering the use of bikes in Groningen a good practice to emulate in Italy.