In a new study, researchers green spaces linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
The finding provides further evidence on the health benefits of green spaces.
The research was conducted by a team from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together and include obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar levels, and abnormal fat levels.
It is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes or stroke.
To date, a number of studies have analyzed the relationship between exposure to green spaces and individual components of metabolic syndrome.
In this study, the team examined the link with metabolic syndrome as a whole, providing an indicator of overall cardio-metabolic health, and in the long-term.
They used data from over 6,000 adults—aged between 45 and 69 at the start of the study—from the Whitehall II cohort from the UK.
Participants underwent four examinations over a period of 14 years (1997-2013), with a series of tests including blood analysis, blood pressure and waist circumference measurements.
Residential greenness was determined by satellite images.
The team found people who live in greener neighborhoods are at lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those living in areas with less green spaces.
These findings suggest that long-term exposure to green spaces can play an important role in preventing metabolic syndrome as a whole, as well as individual components such as large waist circumference, high levels of blood fats or hypertension.
The mechanisms underlying this association may be related to better opportunities provided by green spaces to perform the physical activity as well as a decrease in exposure to air pollution.
The association observed was higher for women than for men. This may be because women tend to spend more time in their residential neighborhood, which could explain this gender difference.
Green spaces could help reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, one of the top priorities in public health nowadays.
The lead author of the study is Carmen de Keijzer, an ISGlobal researcher.
The study is published in Environmental Pollution.
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