Last spring, we invited Lahti residents to join an experiment that examined the effects of an environmentally friendly lifestyle on health. The expert in the experiment was Planetary Health Physician Hanna Haveri. She prepared personalised prescriptions promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle for the participants.
During the experiment, changes in the participants’ carbon footprint and health were measured and assessed. On average, the carbon footprint decreased by 17 per cent, overall well-being improved by 16 per cent, and exhaustion scores dropped by 36 per cent. Several metrics were used to collect the data. The change in the carbon footprint was assessed by the city’s Environmental Coordinator Aino Kulonen.
The Lancet notes that although this was a small experiment, the results nevertheless point to the health benefits of an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Professor Sir Andy Haines, who was interviewed in the article, praises the Lahti pilot for its visionary thinking and sees it as an example of what could be done in the world on a larger scale.
Tony Capon, the first Professor of Planetary Health in the world, commented that planetary health is an abstract concept that the Lahti-based project is making real at the local level.
According to Capon, Hanna Haveri, who works at the Päijät-Häme Joint Authority for Health and Wellbeing, is very likely the world’s first planetary health physician.
The Lancet published the article Prescriptions for the planet – The Lancet on 19 November 2022. Reported by Jacqui Thornton.
Lahti’s Planetary Prescription pilot
Last summer, five bold and curious Lahti residents set out on a journey of change, during which they wanted to find out whether a lifestyle that is sustainable in terms of nature can also bring well-being to themselves and their loved ones. The experiment participants followed a prescription created by Hanna Haveri, Finland’s first planetary health physician who works at the Päijät-Häme Joint Authority for Health and Wellbeing.
After two months, the participants experienced significant changes in their carbon footprint and health. The greatest changes were experienced in mental well-being: overall, the exhaustion scores of the test group dropped by a total of 36 per cent. The results provide an example of how a sustainable lifestyle can also be an act for health.
The participants’ journey of change was condensed into the Planetary Prescription content series that appeared on the City of Lahti’s YouTube and Instagram channels between September and October. The six episodes of the series have reached more than 27,600 views on YouTube and more than 39,470 views on Instagram by the end of October. The videos are still available to watch and the number of views is still increasing.
The results of the experiment have also attracted the interest of the media both nationally and internationally. So far, ten Finnish media outlets, such as Helsingin Sanomat and Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, have reported on Lahti’s Planetary Prescription. Their combined reach in Finland is 3,447,300 people.
International media – such as the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Euronews and The Times – have so far published 34 articles with a combined reach of 99,658,156 people. Contacts are continuing to come in, so the number of stories is still on the rise. By the end of October, the combined reach was 103,105,456 people.