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More Green Spaces in Cities Could Help Prevent Early Deaths, According to Research

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Dec 9, 2019

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Greenery in residential areas could help reduce premature mortality, according to research published in The Lancet Planetary Health. The resultant study is a meta-analysis involving seven countries — Canada, United States, Spain, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, and China — and around eight million people.

As bastions of skyscrapers and crowded lanes, urban spaces aren’t known for their foliage. 2.5% of Mumbai’s vast expanse is dedicated to public green spaces, making it among the lowest in the world, according to the World Cities Culture Forum. This is to the detriment of the city’s residents, as greenery is linked to less stress, better mental health, lower risk of metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease among other benefits, according to the study.

“Urban greening programs are not only key to promoting public health, but they also increase biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change, making our cities more sustainable and livable,” Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, co-author and director of the Urban Planning, Environment, and Health Initiative at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, said in a statement.


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For accuracy, researchers only utilized previous research that followed the same cohort of individuals over several years, focused on premature all-cause mortality and used a simple measure of exposure to green space called the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which uses remote sensing to measure if a targeted region contains vegetation or greenery.

“This is the largest and most comprehensive synthesis to date on green space and premature mortality … and the results support interventions and policies to increase green spaces as a strategy to improve public health,” David Rojas, co-author of the study and a researcher at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, said in a statement.

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Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is the senior culture writer at The Swaddle, with an interest in cultural analysis, environment, and the science of mental health.  Write to her using aditi@theswaddle.com, or find her on social media @aditimurti.

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