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Environment

Green spaces reduce health inequality

9 years, 8 months ago

562  0
Posted on Nov 10, 2008, 9 a.m. By Rich Hurd

Ensuring neighborhoods have green spaces can help to reduce the health inequality that exists between the rich and poor, say Scottish researchers.

Ensuring neighborhoods have green spaces can help to reduce the health inequality that exists between the rich and poor, say Scottish researchers.

Dr Richard Mitchell and Frank Popham examined data from mortality records of more than 366,000 people to establish whether exposure to green space had any impact upon the association between income deprivation, all-cause mortality, and cause-specific mortality.

Results showed that people living near a park, woodland, or other open space, were less likely to die from all causes or from circulatory diseases than those living in neighborhoods with no green spaces. In fact, the so-called “health gap”, the health inequality observed between people of different income, was reduced by half in those living in areas surrounded by the highest levels of greenery. However, even just one small park was found to make a noticeable difference to the health of those living nearby.

The researchers concluded: “In studies that compare income-related gradients between different types of societies, much is made of the potential effect of different health-care and other social-welfare systems, or of the relative distribution of income within societies. We have shown substantial differences in health inequality between populations who are exposed to the same welfare state, health service, and national income distribution but who are resident in different types of physical environment. The implications of the study are clear: environments that promote good health might be crucial in the fight to reduce health inequalities.”

Mitchell R, Popham F. Effect of exposure to natural environment on health inequalities: an observational population study. The Lancet. 2008;372:1655-1660. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61689-X

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