News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 

Parks and green spaces make healthier lives

People are likely to be healthier living close to parks and green spaces, new research shows

February 5, 2015

New Zealanders who live close to parks or green spaces are less likely to be overweight or suffer from obesity, a University of Canterbury research project has found.

The researchers say there is potential benefit in featuring green spaces in health promotions in both urban and deprived areas of New Zealand.

The prevalence of adult obesity in New Zealand is high (28 percent in 2011/12) and rising, leading to escalating health care costs, especially for associated conditions such as Type II diabetes. About 11 percent of New Zealand children up to the age of 14 are considered obese. Another 20 percent are overweight and at risk of obesity.

The University of Canterbury geography research, headed by Professor Simon Kingham, explored private and public green spaces and people undertaking physical activity. It analysed the activities of 12,500 New Zealanders, including 2500 Aucklanders, and found green spaces influenced their physical and mental health.

“Park creation and planting in existing public spaces may serve as low-cost disease prevention options. Our results also indicate the potential benefit of targeted health promotion in both urban and deprived areas in New Zealand.

“We found associations between neighbourhood environmental characteristics, obesity and related behaviours among adult New Zealanders. There is a growing recognition of the potential role of environmental factors in reducing obesity and promoting physical activity and healthy diets.

“We found that increased neighbourhood deprivation and decreased access to neighbourhood green spaces were both significantly associated with increased odds of being overweight and / or

obese. Increased access to green space was associated with high levels of walking, while decreased access to green space was associated with low levels of walking.

“There was also a significant trend for low levels of walking to be positively associated with neighbourhood deprivation. Results for adequate fruit and vegetable consumption show rural people meeting recommended levels more than those in cities.

“Geographic access to supermarkets was better in deprived neighbourhoods than affluent neighbourhoods, but access was not associated with individuals’ vegetable intake.

“This is probably the first study in New Zealand to evaluate the potential role of environmental characteristics in influencing obesity of becoming overweight, adding to evidence from the United States, Australia, Canada and Europe.

“The fear of neighbourhood crime has also exhibited a negative impact on mental and physical wellbeing in New Zealand and has been shown to reduce residents’ walking within the local neighbourhood in Australia and the United Kingdom.”

Professor Kingham heads the University of Canterbury’s spatial GeoHealth Laboratory, which researches in areas such as health geography, spatial epidemiology and geographic information systems.

The laboratory has examined issues such as household crowding and infectious disease; monitoring people’s health in cities; mental health outcomes following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes; and travel, transport and travel and health outcomes.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 


Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>


Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>


Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>


Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>


Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>


 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland