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Acta Paediatr. 2013 Jan;102(1):83-91. doi: 10.1111/apa.12047. Epub 2012 Nov 3.

The quality of the outdoor environment influences childrens health -- a cross-sectional study of preschools.

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The Section of General Practice, Department of Public Health and The research Unit for General Practice, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.



To test how the quality of the outdoor environment of child day care centres (DCCs) influences children's health.


The environment was assessed using the Outdoor Play Environmental Categories (OPEC) tool, time spent outdoors and physical activity as measured by pedometer. 172/253 (68%) of children aged 3.0-5.9 from nine DCCs participated in Southern Sweden. Health data collected were body mass index, waist circumference, saliva cortisol, length of night sleep during study, and symptoms and well-being which were scored (1-week diary - 121 parent responders). Also, parent-rated well-being and health of their child were scored (questionnaire, 132 parent responders). MANOVA, ANOVA and principal component analyses were performed to identify impacts of the outdoor environment on health.


High-quality outdoor environment at DCCs is associated with several health aspects in children such as leaner body, longer night sleep, better well-being and higher mid-morning saliva cortisol levels.


The quality of the outdoor environment at DCCs influenced the health and well-being of preschool children and should be given more attention among health care professionals and community planners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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