WELLINGTON (Xinhua) – Planting trees in public places could lead to a healthier society, according to a New Zealand study, for which the findings were published recently.
The University of Canterbury research analysed the activities of 12,500 New Zealanders and found people living near parks and green spaces were less likely to be overweight or obese.
“Park creation and planting in existing public spaces may serve as low-cost disease prevention options,” Professor Simon Kingham said in a statement.
Around 28 per cent of New Zealand adults were said to be obese and the figure was rising, leading to escalating healthcare costs, while about 11 per cent of children up to the age of 14 were considered obese.
“We found associations between neighbourhood environmental characteristics, obesity and related behaviours among adult New Zealanders,” said Kingham.
“We found that increased neighbourhood deprivation and decreased access to neighbourhood green spaces were both significantly associated with increased odds of being overweight and/or obese. Increased access to green space was associated with high levels of walking, while decreased access to green space was associated with low levels of walking.”
It was probably the first study in New Zealand to evaluate the potential role of environmental characteristics in influencing obesity of becoming overweight, adding to evidence from the United States, Australia, Canada and Europe.
“The fear of neighbourhood crime has also exhibited a negative impact on mental and physical well-being in New Zealand and has been shown to reduce residents’ walking within the local neighbourhood in Australia and the United Kingdom,” said Kingham.