More Green, Less Diabetes Finds Australian Study

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Being out in nature has been shown to improve creativity and cognitive function, as well as increase the likelihood of exercise for weight maintenance. A new study finds that when you live in an area that has more green and open spaces, you are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as well.

Researchers with the University of Western Sydney (Australia) studied data on more than 267,000 people living in New South Wales who were part of the 45 and Up Study. They used information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to calculate levels of green space.

People living in neighborhoods with more green and open spaces had lower rates of Type 2 diabetes. For those in areas with at least 40% green space, the rate of Type 2 diabetes was 8% versus 9.1% for those in neighborhoods that were less than 20% green space.

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The findings are consistent with other studies that suggest that increasing the number of parks and other green spaces promotes an active lifestyle that can help curb many chronic health conditions. Conversely, economically underserved areas put people at greater risk for health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

In addition to promoting exercise, those who live near green spaces are also less likely to eat a high fat diet, less likely to smoke, and more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Dr. Thomas Astell-Burt PhD says, "Promoting access to nature is an important preventive health tool for addressing the type 2 diabetes epidemic, regardless of a person's economic circumstances. Investments in green space planning policy and practice are, therefore, investments in health."

Journal reference:
Astell-Burt T "Is neighborhood green space associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus? Evidence from 267,072 Australians" Diabetes Care 2013; DOI:
10.2337/dc13-1325.

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