A new study has analyzed the relation between long-term exposure to green space and the risk of metabolic syndrome. An institution supported by “la Caixa” – the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), has conducted this study. Whereas, the journal “Environmental Pollution” has presented its findings.
Health benefits of greener neighborhoods
The research team has compared the middle-aged and older adults living in greener neighborhoods with those living in areas with fewer green spaces. And has found that people with more greenspace exposure have a reduction in their risk of metabolic syndrome.
This is the major conclusion of the study and provides further evidence on the health-related benefits of greenspaces. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that usually occurs together. While these conditions may include high blood sugar levels, hypertension, abnormal fat levels, and obesity.
Additionally, metabolic syndrome is also a major risk factor for many non-communicable diseases. Such as diabetes, stroke, and heart attacks. Up till now, a number of studies have examined the association between individual components of metabolic syndrome and exposure to greenspaces.
For instance, a study in the journal “Environmental Research and Public Health” has found the association between BMI and urban green streetscape. On the contrary, in this study, ISGlobal has assessed the link with metabolic syndrome as a whole. And provided an indicator of overall and long-term cardiometabolic health. This longitudinal study has included the data of more than 6,000 adults from the Whitehall II cohort from the UK.
At the start of the study, these participants had an age from 45 to 69. And underwent four examinations during a time of 14 years (1997 – 2013). That included a series of tests, such as blood pressure, blood analysis, and waist circumference measurements. At the same time, the satellite images were used to measure greenness in the residential area.
Greenspaces may prevent metabolic diseases
Overall, the results of the study imply that long-term exposure to greenspaces may play a major role in preventing metabolic diseases as a whole. Besides, the response is similar in the case of individual components. That may include hypertension, high waist circumference, or high levels of blood fats.
Carmen de Keijzer is ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study. She has tried to explain the mechanism underlying the association between green space exposure and the risk of metabolic syndrome. According to her, better chances by greenspaces to perform physical activity along with a reduction in exposure to air pollution may have led to this association.
Additionally, the association observed was more in women compared to men. The researcher has also given her suggestions regarding this finding. She has stated that spending more time in the residential neighborhood by women may explain this gender difference.
Payam Dadvand is ISGlobal researcher and last author of the study. He has stated that the study has found more health-related benefits in areas with higher tree coverage. And it has provided a basis for exploring the types of vegetation that have a positive impact on a person’s health.
Dadvand has stressed the need for greener areas for having healthier cities. Greenspace can help in reducing the global burden of many non-communicable diseases. And nowadays, in public health, it is one of the top priorities.
Another recent study by ISGlobal has shown that cognitive decline is lower among people living in more greener areas. Whereas, greater longevity, less stress, or a better mental and overall health are some other benefits proved by scientific studies.