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Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2015 Jun;2(2):131-142.

A Review of the Health Benefits of Greenness.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 401 Park Dr 3 Floor West Boston, MA 02215.
2
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 401 Park Dr 3 Floor West Boston, MA 02215.
3
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 401 Park Dr 3 Floor West Boston, MA 02215.
4
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School 401 Park Dr 3 Floor West Boston, MA 02215.

Abstract

Researchers are increasingly exploring how neighborhood greenness, or vegetation, may affect health behaviors and outcomes. Greenness may influence health by promoting physical activity and social contact; decreasing stress; and mitigating air pollution, noise, and heat exposure. Greenness is generally measured using satellite-based vegetation indices or land-use databases linked to participants' addresses. In this review, we found fairly strong evidence for a positive association between greenness and physical activity, and a less consistent negative association between greenness and body weight. Research suggests greenness is protective against adverse mental health outcomes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality, though most studies were limited by cross-sectional or ecological design. There is consistent evidence that greenness exposure during pregnancy is positively associated with birth weight, though findings for other birth outcomes are less conclusive. Future research should follow subjects prospectively, differentiate between greenness quantity and quality, and identify mediators and effect modifiers of greenness-health associations.

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