Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Landscape for health: Green you neighborhood, keep kids healthy

A local research study making headlines this week shows that the greener your neighborhood is, the more likely your children are to be healthier and less likely to be overweight.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, IUPUI and the University of Washington found ties between higher neighborhood greenness and slower increases in children’s body mass. The study focused on inner-city children, which demonstrates that you don’t have to live in the country or large lots to reap benefits from making green changes.

The government-funded research study used satellite images to identify and measure greenness, defined as on the amount and health of vegetation in the area.

"For children, physical activity is active play and that usually take place outdoors. We need to encourage them to go outside and play,” said Gilbert C. Liu, M.D., senior author of the study, which recently appeared in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Trees and other urban vegetation improve aesthetics, reduce pollution and keep things cooler, making the outside a more attractive place to play, walk or run.

“I love the idea that we can landscape for health," Liu says.

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