By Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS
Sydney, Australia (September 11, 2013) – Being in nature and among the trees are racking up a number of documented health benefits, including making us happier, reduced stress, improved sleep, and improved cognitive function. Now researchers have found that parks and other green spaces promote active lifestyles and, therefore, may reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
Researchers in Sydney, Australia, investigated association between neighborhood green space and the risk of T2DM in 267,072 adult Australians as part of The 45 and Up Study. Green space data was obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and exposure was calculated using a 1km buffer from a participant’s place of residence. Odds Ratios (ORs) were controlled for measures of demographic, cultural, health, diet, active lifestyles, socioeconomic status and neighborhood circumstances.
Results: The rate of T2DM was 9.1% among participants in neighborhoods with 0-20% green space, but this rate dropped to approximately 8% for participants with over 40% green space within their residential neighborhoods. The risk of T2DM was significantly lower in greener neighborhoods controlling for demographic and cultural factors, especially among participants residing in neighborhoods with 41-60% green space land-use. This association was consistent after controlling for other explanatory variables and did not vary according to neighborhood circumstances.
Conclusions: People in greener surroundings have a lower risk of T2DM. Planning, promoting and maintaining local green spaces is important in multi-sector initiatives for addressing the T2DM epidemic.