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Morbidity Reduced for People Who Have Nearby Green Space

Last Updated: October 16, 2009.

Populations in areas with nearby green space tend to have a lower prevalence of common diseases and conditions, particularly depression and anxiety, according to a study published online Oct. 15 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

FRIDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Populations in areas with nearby green space tend to have a lower prevalence of common diseases and conditions, particularly depression and anxiety, according to a study published online Oct. 15 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Jolanda Maas, Ph.D. of the EMGO Institute VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed morbidity data (as defined by the International Classification of Primary Care) from electronic medical records of 195 clinicians representing 96 Dutch medical practices serving 345,143 patients. The prevalence of 24 disease clusters in seven categories was associated with the percentage of green space within 1 and 3 km radii around the patients' postal code coordinates.

The researchers found the annual prevalence rate was lower for 15 of the 24 disease clusters for people who have green space within a 1 km radius compared to those who do not. The association was found to be strongest for depression and anxiety disorder and was stronger among people of lower socioeconomic status and children. Further, the green effect was strongest in areas that were slightly urban, but was not seen in very urban areas.

"This study indicates that the previously established relation between green space and a number of self-reported general indicators of physical and mental health can also be found for clusters of specific physician-assessed morbidity. The study stresses the importance of green space close to home for children and lower socioeconomic groups," the authors write.

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