Green Neighbourhoods Linked With Decreased Risks of Diabetes & Heart Diseases

Greater levels of greenness in one’s neighbourhood have been linked with a significant decrease in the rate of chronic diseases, says a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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We are all aware of the positive effects of plants on humans and their environment. A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences, and the School of Architecture shows a new side of the concept. Undoubtedly, if humans and plants are to coexist, the interactions from the two have to be beneficial to us.

Trees, grass, and other vegetation in one’s environment is so beneficial to the health that they are linked with a decreased incidence of chronic illnesses, according to the paper. The diseases in question include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol conditions, and similar ailments.

Higher amounts of green in the blocks where the participants lived were linked with a 14% reduced risk of developing diabetes, a 13% decreased risk for hypertension, and a 10% lower risk for lipid disorders.

“Going from a low to a high level of greenness at the block level is associated with 49 fewer chronic health conditions per 1,000 residents, which is approximately equivalent to a reduction in the biomedical aging of the study population by three years,” says lead study author Scott Brown.

This paper adds to the growing body of research that correlates greenness with health preservation.

Another finding is that the health benefits were propotionately stronger in neighbourhoods dominated by lower-income households. This indicates that adding more green in low-income areas might help address issues relating to disparities in health among the different types of neighbourhoods.

According to José Szapocznik, the founder of the University of Miami Built Environment, Behavior, and Health Research Group, greenery is associated with a number of elements that contribute to decrease chronic conditions: for instance, it provides a sense of safety, and makes people spend more time outside, indulging in physical activity and interacting with others; all of these factors ultimately  contribute to a reduction in the burden that constitutes diseases.

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