Living Near Greenery Reduces Likelihood of Child Obesity

Dec 21, 2008 by

Living Near Greenery Reduces Likelihood of Child Obesity

I’m sure you have heard of the phrase, “clean and green”. Now, we perhaps need to coin a new one – “clean and slim”.

According to a study conducted at the Indiana University School of Medicine, living in a neighborhood with more greenery actually lowers the risk of children being obese.

Published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study looked at children aged 3 to 18 years, who lived in the same residence for at least 2 straight years. It found that higher “greenness” of a neighborhood was linked to slower increases in body mass index (BMI) with time. And this was independent of age, race or gender. According to the researchers, this slowing down of the BMI increase could decrease the likelihood of child obesity in the long run.

How does it work? Generally speaking, trees and other types of urban vegetation helps to improve a neighborhood’s appearance, cut down on pollution, as well as make the area cooler during summer. These factors encourage children to get outside and walk, play, run, etc.

And, of course, such activity would reduce the risk of obesity, which is linked to a whole host of health conditions, including asthma, type 2 diabetes, emotional problems, hypertension or high blood pressure, as well as sleep apnea. A child who is obese is likely to become an obese adult, too.

Gilbert C. Liu, an assistant professor of pediatrics at University who led the study, said: “Previous work, including our own, has provided snapshots in time, and shown that for children in densely population 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”.

“Obesity is a national epidemic necessitating the involvement of health-care providers, parents, and the community. Our lifestyle makes us sedentary and less healthy. For children, physical activity is active play, and that usually takes place outdoors. We need to encourage them to go outside and play. I love the idea that we can landscape for health.”

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