Loss of green space linked to higher health risks in India

Urban development leading to a reduction in green space may be associated with an increase in several cardiometabolic risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and hyperglycaemia in India, warn researchers.

“The findings of this study support the need to integrate health into urban planning to reduce the negative health impacts of urbanisation, especially in cities or neighbourhoods that are undergoing rapid land use changes,” said study lead author Cathryn Tonne from Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain.

The research team investigated the association between land use changes involving the conversion of natural and crop to built-up land use and cardiometabolic risk factors in a peri-urban area south of Hyderabad undergoing urbanisation.

The study, published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, also explored the possible mediating roles of air pollution, physical activity and stress in these associations.

It included health data from over 6,000 adults and the authors analysed changes in land use over a 14-year period across an area of 700 square kilometre using classification methods based on satellite remote sensing data from Landsat missions.

The cardiometabolic risk factors studied included blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol and fasting glucose, and participants answered survey questions about their lifestyle and stress indicators.

The findings showed that a fast increase in built-up land use within 300 metres of a person’s residence was associated with an increase in metabolic risk factors.

People whose neighbourhoods experienced faster urban development compared to those whose neighbourhoods did not change had higher blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic), waist circumference and fasting glucose values.

In connection with the link between urban development and increased cardiometabolic risk, the study has shown that this association may, in part, be mediated by an increase in air pollution and a reduction in physical activity due to the loss of green space close to the residential areas.

Analysis by sex revealed that women suffered more than men in the health impact of the loss of green space.

A possible explanation for this disparity could be differences in mobility patterns because women spend a substantially larger portion of the day close to their homes (74 per cent) than men (52 per cent), the researchers said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency without modifications to the text)

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