Green cities and health: a question of scale?

Richardson, E.A., Mitchell, R. , Hartig, T., de Vries, S., Astell-Burt, T. and Frumkin, H. (2011) Green cities and health: a question of scale? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66(2), pp. 160-165. (doi:10.1136/jech.2011.137240)

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Abstract

<p><b>Background:</b> Cities are expanding and accommodating an increasing proportion of the world's population. It is important to identify features of urban form that promote the health of city dwellers. Access to green space has been associated with health benefits at both individual and neighbourhood level. We investigated whether a relationship between green space coverage and selected mortality rates exists at the city level in the USA.</p> <p><b>Methods:</b> An ecological cross-sectional study. A detailed land use data set was used to quantify green space for the largest US cities (n=49, combined population of 43 million). Linear regression models were used to examine the association between city-level ‘greenness’ and city-level standardised rates of mortality from heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer, motor vehicle fatalities and all causes, after adjustment for confounders.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> There was no association between greenness and mortality from heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer or automobile accidents. Mortality from all causes was significantly higher in greener cities.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> While considerable evidence suggests that access to green space yields health benefits, we found no such evidence at the scale of the American city. In the USA, greener cities tend also to be more sprawling and have higher levels of car dependency. Any benefits that the green space might offer seem easily eclipsed by these other conditions and the lifestyles that accompany them. The result merits further investigation as it has important implications for how we increase green space access in our cities.</p>

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Professor Richard and Astell-Burt, Mr Thomas
Authors: Richardson, E.A., Mitchell, R., Hartig, T., de Vries, S., Astell-Burt, T., and Frumkin, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:0143-005X
ISSN (Online):1470-2738
Published Online:14 October 2011
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2011 BMJ Publishing Group
First Published:First published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 66(2):160-165
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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