Morbidity is related to a green living environment

EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Centre, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Journal of epidemiology and community health (Impact Factor: 3.5). 10/2009; 63(12):967-73. DOI: 10.1136/jech.2008.079038
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT As a result of increasing urbanisation, people face the prospect of living in environments with few green spaces. There is increasing evidence for a positive relation between green space in people's living environment and self-reported indicators of physical and mental health. This study investigates whether physician-assessed morbidity is also related to green space in people's living environment.
Morbidity data were derived from electronic medical records of 195 general practitioners in 96 Dutch practices, serving a population of 345,143 people. Morbidity was classified by the general practitioners according to the International Classification of Primary Care. The percentage of green space within a 1 km and 3 km radius around the postal code coordinates was derived from an existing database and was calculated for each household. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
The annual prevalence rate of 15 of the 24 disease clusters was lower in living environments with more green space in a 1 km radius. The relation was strongest for anxiety disorder and depression. The relation was stronger for children and people with a lower socioeconomic status. Furthermore, the relation was strongest in slightly urban areas and not apparent in very strongly urban areas.
This study indicates that the previously established relation between green space and a number of self-reported general indicators of physical and mental health can also be found for clusters of specific physician-assessed morbidity. The study stresses the importance of green space close to home for children and lower socioeconomic groups.

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Available from: Robert A Verheij, Sep 28, 2015
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    • "Public health professionals have long recognized the connection between neighborhoods and health, and have identified park improvements and creation of new parks as public health interventions (Bassett, 2009; Nordh & Ostby, 2013). Proximity to parks is associated with greater frequency of physical activity (Cohen et al., 2007), reduced weight (Liu et al., 2007; Ellaway et al., 2005), reduced weight gain (Bell et al., 2008), lower coronary heart disease(Maas et al., 2009; Dengel et al., 2009), social cohesion (Sullivan et al., 2004) and longevity (Takano et al., 2002). The strength of these associations varies based on park facilities and programming (Cohen et al., 2006, 2010, 2009; Schipperijna et al., 2013) and by characteristics of the potential park users, including sex, race and ethnicity, and age (Cohen et al., 2006, 2007; Lachowycz and Jones, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Community parks have achieved recognition as a public health intervention to promote physical activity. This study evaluated changes in population-level physical activity when an undeveloped green space adjacent to transitional housing for refugees was transformed into a recreational park. A prospective, nonrandomized study design used the System of Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) to document the number and activity levels of park users over time, and to compare trends pre-and post-construction. T-tests or tests of medians (when appropriate) were used to compare pre-and post-construction changes in use of non-park and park zones for physical activity and changes in park use by age and gender. Pre-and post-comparisons of people observed using non-park zones (i.e., adjacent streets, alleys and parking lots) and park zones indicated a 38% decrease in energy expended in non-park zones and a 3-fold increase in energy expended within the park (P = 0.002). The majority of park users pre-and post-construction were children, however the proportion of adolescent males observed in vigorous activity increased from 11% to 38% (P = 0.007). Adolescent females and elderly continued to be under-represented in the park. Our findings support an association between creation of accessible outdoor spaces for recreation and improvements in physical activity. Community involvement in park design assured that features included in the park space matched the needs and desires of the communities served. Some demographic groups were still under-represented within the park, suggesting a need to develop targeted outreach strategies and programming.
    Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 12/2015; 14(2):293-299. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2015.02.011 · 2.11 Impact Factor
    • "However, this situation is now changing once more. Both passively viewing and actively engaging with 'nature' have been suggested by empirical studies to influence physical and mental health (see e.g., Barak, Savorai, Mavashev, & Avshalom, 2001; Barton & Pretty, 2010; Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008; De Vries, Verheij, Groenewegen, & Spreeuwenberg, 2003; Diette, Lechtzin, Haponik, Devrotes, & Rubin, 2003; Maas et al., 2009; Milligan, Gatrell, & Bingley, 2004; Mitchell & Popham, 2008; Podberscek, Paul, & Serpell, 2000; Pretty, Peacock, Sellens, & Griffin, 2005; Sempik, Aldridge, & Becker, 2005; Ulrich, 1984). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives Care farms enable people who are in some way vulnerable to engage with agricultural places and farming activities. This study investigates how this impacts on the health and well-being of service users and explores associated processes and outcomes.DesignA mixed methods design was adopted that allowed for the integration of quantitative measurements of change with qualitative descriptions of this change. A pragmatic approach provided sufficient flexibility to support the investigation of complex contexts.MethodsA total of 216 service users completed an initial questionnaire, and 137 (63%) of this number provided comparative data in a follow-up questionnaire. Questionnaires contained multiple choice and open-ended questions alongside standardized health and well-being measures requiring Likert-format responses. Semi-structured interviews with 33 service users allowed personal experiences to be detailed.ResultsStatistical analysis of well-being measure scores identified significant positive relationships with the length of time people had been attending the care farm. Questionnaire and interview data presented health benefits as being enabled by the farm environment, the positive experience as supporting personal development, and associated social interactions as becoming increasingly influential as time progressed.Conclusions The health and well-being outcomes that result from participating at a care farm influence multiple elements of the human condition and apply amongst vulnerable people with a wide range of personal needs. Care farms have access to a potentially unique range of resources that can support many service users in becoming happier and healthier individuals.Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Care farming is increasingly practised and is suggested to support the health and well-being of people who are in some way vulnerable. Care farms utilize agricultural spaces and activities to provide benefits that are presented as having relevance to public health and social inclusion agendas. What does this study add? This is the first longitudinal study to include participants with such differing personal needs.Associated outcomes are explored to provide an understanding of how they impact on health.People and place are found to be mutually supportive in facilitating positive change.
    British Journal of Health Psychology 03/2015; DOI:10.1111/bjhp.12138 · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    • "nd green space have a lower prevalence of asthma , improved mental well - being , reductions in stress , positive effects on birth outcomes , lower morbidity , reduced CVD risk , greater longevity of the elderly , positive effects on cognitive function , and healthier cortisol profiles ( Takano et al . 2002 ; Hartig 2008 ; Mitchell & Popham 2008 ; Maas et al . 2009 ; Barton & Pretty 2010 ; Bratman et al . 2012 ; Ward - Thompson et al . 2012 ) . Conversely , the loss of familiar green spaces and even individual trees , causes tangible distress , a syndrome labelled solastalgia ( Albrecht 2005 ) . Less green space typical of deprived communities produces higher stress and flattened cortisol profiles"
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    ABSTRACT: Increases in gross domestic product (GDP) beyond a threshold of basic needs do not lead to further increases in well-being. An explanation is that material consumption (MC) also results in negative health externalities. We assess how these externalities influence six factors critical for well-being: (i) healthy food; (ii) active body; (iii) healthy mind; (iv) community links; (v) contact with nature; and (vi) attachment to possessions. If environmentally sustainable consumption (ESC) were increasingly substituted for MC, thus improving well-being and stocks of natural and social capital, and sustainable behaviours involving non-material consumption (SBs-NMC) became more prevalent, then well-being would increase regardless of levels of GDP. In the UK, the individualised annual health costs of negative consumption externalities (NCEs) currently amount to £62 billion for the National Health Service, and £184 billion for the economy (for mental ill-health, dementia, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, loneliness and cardiovascular disease). A dividend is available if substitution by ESC and SBs-NMC could limit the prevalence of these conditions.
    International Journal of Environmental Health Research 02/2015; DOI:10.1080/09603123.2015.1007841 · 1.57 Impact Factor
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