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Researchers Link Green Spaces to Children’s Health

In the first study to look at the effect of neighborhood greenness on inner city children's weight over time, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the University of Washington report that higher neighborhood greenness is associated with slower increases in children's body mass over a two year period, regardless of residential density.

"Previous work, including our own, has provided snap shots in time, and shown that for children in densely populated cities, the greener the neighborhood, the lower the risk of obesity. Our new study of over 3,800 inner city children revealed that living in areas with green space has a long term positive impact on children's weight and thus health," said Gilbert C. Liu, M.D., senior author of the new study which appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Liu is assistant professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist.

The new study looked at children ages 3 to 18 years whose residence didn't change over 24 consecutive months. Higher neighborhood greenness was associated with slower increases in body mass index over time, regardless of age, race or sex. This slowing of body mass index could correspond with reduced risk of child obesity in the long term. The inner city children in the study were predominantly African-American, poor, and publically insured.

In a novel partnering of health services research and geographic technologies, the researchers used satellite images to identify and…

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