A Review of Epidemiologic Studies on Greenness and Health: Updated Literature Through 2017

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Many studies suggest that exposure to natural vegetation, or greenness, may be beneficial for a variety of health outcomes. We summarize the recent research in this area.

Recent Findings

We observed consistent and strong evidence of associations for higher greenness with improvements in birth weights and physical activity, as well as lower mortality rates. Recent studies also suggested that exposure to greenness may lower levels of depression and depressive symptoms. The evidence on greenness and cardiovascular health remains mixed. Findings are also inconsistent for greenness measures and asthma and allergies.

Summary

Our knowledge of the impacts of greenness on a wide variety of health outcomes continues to evolve. Future research should incorporate information on specific species and some qualities of natural greenness that might drive health outcomes, integrate exposure assessments that incorporate personal mobility into analyses, and include prospective designs to add to the growing evidence that nature exposure positively affects health.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Its contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USEPA or the NIH. Further, USEPA and NIH do not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication.

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This publication was made possible by USEPA (RD-834798, RD-835872, RD-83615601-0) and NIH (R00 CA201542, P50 MD010428).

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Correspondence to Kelvin C. Fong.

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Fong, K.C., Hart, J.E. & James, P. A Review of Epidemiologic Studies on Greenness and Health: Updated Literature Through 2017. Curr Envir Health Rpt 5, 77–87 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-018-0179-y

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Keywords

  • Greenness
  • Green spaces
  • Built environment
  • Health benefits
  • Mental health
  • Urbanization