What is HELIUS?
HELIUS – HEalthy Life In an Urban Setting – is a longitudinal study administered by the AMC and GGD Amsterdam in which a large spectrum of factors that could influence the health of the population of a multi-ethnic city is examined on a large scale.
The study populations in HELIUS are Amsterdamers of Dutch, Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccan and Ghanaian descent. Thousands of people are being followed over time. The developments in health, healthcare use and wellbeing of the participants are being studied. Focal points are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, psychological health and infectious diseases. The HELIUS research is unique in the Netherlands and in Europe. Doctors and scientists from several disciplines are working with HELIUS and monitor the results from within the Netherlands and abroad.
More than one out of ten residents in our country is of non-Dutch descent and this number will increase. It is expected that in 2025 more than half of the population of Amsterdam will originate from other countries. Large health differences exist between people from Dutch and non-western descent. The prevalence of diabetes, for example, is two to four times higher among men and women from non-western descent than it is among the native Dutch population. Furthermore, the chance of dying from infectious diseases is twice as high for people from non-western groups compared to the native Dutch population.
Research is necessary
Health differences between populations can only partially be explained by socio economic circumstances. It is expected that the health difference may be explained by a complex interplay of factors including genetics, culture, behavior and socio economic position. Therefore, research is necessary in order to gain an understanding of this complex interplay.