University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study: Links between neighborhood greenness and reduction in chronic diseases

24 Apr

Cheryl Katz wrote the 2012 Scientific American article, People in Poor Neighborhoods Breathe More Hazardous Particles:

Tiny particles of air pollution contain more hazardous ingredients in non-white and low-income communities than in affluent white ones, a new study shows.

The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African Americans or poor residents in an area, the more likely that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe.

Latinos had the highest exposures to the largest number of these ingredients, while whites generally had the lowest.

The findings of the Yale University research add to evidence of a widening racial and economic gap when it comes to air pollution. Communities of color and those with low education and high poverty and unemployment face greater health risks even if their air quality meets federal health standards, according to the article published online in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Fresno are among the metropolitan areas with unhealthful levels of fine particles and large concentrations of poor minorities. More than 50 counties could exceed a new tighter health standard for particulates proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Communities of color and those with low education and high poverty and unemployment may face greater health risks even if their air quality meets federal health standards. A pervasive air pollutant, the fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 is a mixture of emissions from diesel engines, power plants, refineries and other sources of combustion. Often called soot, the microscopic particles penetrate deep into the lungs.

The new study is the first to reveal major racial and economic differences in exposures to specific particle ingredients, some of which are linked to asthma, cardiovascular problems and cancer….                                                                   http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/people-poor-neighborhoods-breate-more-hazardous-particles/

A University of Miami Miller School of Medicine expands upon the link between neighborhood greenness and disease.

Science Daily reported in Study links neighborhood greenness to reduction in chronic diseases:

A new study of a quarter-million Miami-Dade County Medicare beneficiaries showed that higher levels of neighborhood greenness, including trees, grass and other vegetation, were linked to a significant reduction in the rate of chronic illnesses, particularly in low-to-middle income neighborhoods. Led by researchers at the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, and the School of Architecture, the study showed that higher greenness was linked to significantly lower rates of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as fewer chronic health conditions.

The findings, published online April 6 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are based on 2010 — 2011 health data reported for approximately 250,000 Miami-Dade Medicare beneficiaries over age 65, and a measure of vegetative presence based on NASA satellite imagery. The study was the first of its kind to examine block-level greenness and its relationship to health outcomes in older adults, and the first to measure the impact of greenness on specific cardio-metabolic diseases.

“This study builds on our research group’s earlier analyses showing block level impacts of mixed-use and supportive building features on adults and children,” said lead study author Scott Brown, Ph.D., research assistant professor of public health sciences. Brown was a co-principal investigator on the study with Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, M.Arch., a Malcolm Matheson Distinguished Professor in Architecture. Plater-Zyberk, who was responsible for the rewrite of the City of Miami’s zoning code in 2010, said the study results “give impetus to public agencies and property owners to plant and maintain a verdant public landscape.”

Study findings revealed that higher levels of greenness on the blocks where the study’s Medicare recipients reside, is associated with a significantly lower chronic disease risk for the residents of high greenness blocks, including a 14 percent risk reduction for diabetes, a 13 percent reduction for hypertension and a 10 percent reduction for lipid disorders…..                                                   https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421171345.htm

Citation:

Study links neighborhood greenness to reduction in chronic diseases

Date:       April 21, 2016

Source:   University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Summary:

Higher levels of greenness (trees, park space and other vegetation) in neighborhoods is linked with significantly lower chronic illnesses, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, public health researchers has shown. The findings were based on 250,000 Medicare recipients age 65 and vegetation presence measured by NASA satellite imagery.

Journal Reference:

  1. Scott C. Brown, Joanna Lombard, Kefeng Wang, Margaret M. Byrne, Matthew Toro, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Daniel J. Feaster, Jack Kardys, Maria I. Nardi, Gianna Perez-Gomez, Hilda M. Pantin, José Szapocznik. Neighborhood Greenness and Chronic Health Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.02.008

Am J Prev Med. 2016 Mar 31. pii: S0749-3797(16)00065-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.02.008. [Epub ahead of print]

Neighborhood Greenness and Chronic Health Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries.

Brown SC1, Lombard J2, Wang K3, Byrne MM3, Toro M3, Plater-Zyberk E2, Feaster DJ3, Kardys J4, Nardi MI4, Perez-Gomez G3, Pantin HM3, Szapocznik J2.

Author information

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Prior studies suggest that exposure to the natural environment may impact health. The present study examines the association between objective measures of block-level greenness (vegetative presence) and chronic medical conditions, including cardiometabolic conditions, in a large population-based sample of Medicare beneficiaries in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

METHODS:

The sample included 249,405 Medicare beneficiaries aged ≥65 years whose location (ZIP+4) within Miami-Dade County, Florida, did not change, from 2010 to 2011. Data were obtained in 2013 and multilevel analyses conducted in 2014 to examine relationships between greenness, measured by mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index from satellite imagery at the Census block level, and chronic health conditions in 2011, adjusting for neighborhood median household income, individual age, gender, race, and ethnicity.

RESULTS:

Higher greenness was significantly associated with better health, adjusting for covariates: An increase in mean block-level Normalized Difference Vegetation Index from 1 SD less to 1 SD more than the mean was associated with 49 fewer chronic conditions per 1,000 individuals, which is approximately similar to a reduction in age of the overall study population by 3 years. This same level of increase in mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index was associated with a reduced risk of diabetes by 14%, hypertension by 13%, and hyperlipidemia by 10%. Planned post-hoc analyses revealed stronger and more consistently positive relationships between greenness and health in lower- than higher-income neighborhoods.

CONCLUSIONS:

Greenness or vegetative presence may be effective in promoting health in older populations, particularly in poor neighborhoods, possibly due to increased time outdoors, physical activity, or stress mitigation.

Copyright © 2016 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:

27061891

[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Here is the press release from the University of Miami:

UM Study Links Neighborhood Greenness to Reduction in Chronic Diseases

Published: April 22, 2016.
Released by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

A new study of a quarter-million Miami-Dade County Medicare beneficiaries showed that higher levels of neighborhood greenness, including trees, grass and other vegetation, were linked to a significant reduction in the rate of chronic illnesses, particularly in low-to-middle income neighborhoods. Led by researchers at the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, and the School of Architecture, the study showed that higher greenness was linked to significantly lower rates of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as fewer chronic health conditions.

The findings, published online April 6 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are based on 2010 – 2011 health data reported for approximately 250,000 Miami-Dade Medicare beneficiaries over age 65, and a measure of vegetative presence based on NASA satellite imagery. The study was the first of its kind to examine block-level greenness and its relationship to health outcomes in older adults, and the first to measure the impact of greenness on specific cardio-metabolic diseases.

“This study builds on our research group’s earlier analyses showing block level impacts of mixed-use and supportive building features on adults and children,” said lead study author Scott Brown, Ph.D., research assistant professor of public health sciences. Brown was a co-principal investigator on the study with Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, M.Arch., a Malcolm Matheson Distinguished Professor in Architecture. Plater-Zyberk, who was responsible for the rewrite of the City of Miami’s zoning code in 2010, said the study results “give impetus to public agencies and property owners to plant and maintain a verdant public landscape.”

Study findings revealed that higher levels of greenness on the blocks where the study’s Medicare recipients reside, is associated with a significantly lower chronic disease risk for the residents of high greenness blocks, including a 14 percent risk reduction for diabetes, a 13 percent reduction for hypertension and a 10 percent reduction for lipid disorders.

“Going from a low to a high level of greenness at the block level is associated with 49 fewer chronic health conditions per 1,000 residents, which is approximately equivalent to a reduction in the biomedical aging of the study population by three years,” said Brown.

Jack Kardys, Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, participated in data interpretation along with Miami-Dade County Parks’ Chief of Planning, Research, and Design Excellence, Maria Nardi. Kardys said the study findings “illuminate the vital role of parks and greens to health and well-being, and point to the critical need for a holistic approach in planning that draws on research.”

The study findings suggest extensive potential for park, open space, and streetscape design in South Florida and the United States to consider health impacts in strategic planning. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Policy Development and Research and the Health Foundation of South Florida, the research adds to a growing body of evidence that exposure to higher levels of greenness is associated with better health outcomes, by reducing stress, air pollution, humidity and heat island impacts, and encouraging physical activity, social interaction and community cohesion.

From a design standpoint, study co-author Joanna Lombard, M.Arch., professor of architecture, noted that the goals of the County’s Parks and Open Spaces Masterplan already call for residents to have access to greenspace from the minute they walk outside of their homes, through tree-lined streets, as well as greens, parks, and open spaces within a 5 to 10 minute walk of their home, all of which have been shown to be linked to better health outcomes. “There’s so much suffering involved in the time, money and energy spent on disease burden in the U.S., which we realize that we can, to some extent, ameliorate through healthy community design,” said Lombard. “We collectively need to be attentive to the health impacts of the built environment. The associated harms are evident, and most importantly going forward, the potential benefits are significant.”

In examining the results by income level and by race, the research showed that the health benefits of greenness were proportionately stronger among all racial and ethnic groups in lower income neighborhoods. Brown said this aspect of the findings suggests that incorporating more green — trees, parks and open spaces — in low income neighborhoods could also address issues of health disparities, which have been recently highlighted in research journals and the national media.

José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and chair of public health sciences, and founder of the University of Miami Built Environment, Behavior, and Health Research Group, pointed out that augmenting greenness, particularly in warm climates, potentially contributes to the effectiveness of other aspects of walkability. “Providing a green feature,” said Szapocznik, “has been associated with safety, increased time outdoors, physical activity, and social interaction, and may potentially reduce disease burdens at the population level and enhance residents’ quality of life.”

This society will not have healthy children without having healthy home and school environments.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

What are Key Urban Environmental Problems?                                                                     http://web.mit.edu/urbanupgrading/urbanenvironment/issues/key-UE-issues.html

Understanding Neighborhood Effects of Concentrated Poverty                                                   https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/winter11/highlight2.html

Where We Live Matters for Our Health: Neighborhoods and Health                                      http://www.commissiononhealth.org/PDF/888f4a18-eb90-45be-a2f8-159e84a55a4c/Issue%20Brief%203%20Sept%2008%20-%20Neighborhoods%20and%20Health.pdf

Where information leads to Hope. ©

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