A recently published prospective study in JAMA Network Open identified a significant association between children’s bone health and their proximity to green areas.
The literature emphasized the benefits of childhood exposure to green spaces for neurocognitive, social, behavioral, and mental development, as well as well-being. In addition, such exposure is linked to lower body mass index, increased physical activity, and reduced risks for overweight, obesity, and hypertension. However, specific data on bone mineral density implications are limited.
To address this gap, Hanne Sleurs, PhD, a researcher at the Universiteit Hasselt in Belgium, and colleagues followed the bone health of 327 participants from birth to 4-6 years and examined correlations with individuals’ exposure to green areas. Data collection occurred from October 2014 to July 2021.
Green spaces were categorized as high (vegetation height > 3 m), low (vegetation height ≤ 3 m), and mixed (combination of both). The distances of green spaces from participants’ residences ranged from a radius of 100 m to 3 km. Radial bone mineral density assessment was conducted using quantitative ultrasound during follow-up consultations.
The scientists found that participants frequently exposed to high and mixed vegetation areas within a 500 m radius of their homes had significantly higher bone mineral density than those at other distances or those frequenting spaces with different vegetation. In addition, access to larger green spaces with mixed and high vegetation within a 1 km radius was significantly associated with a lower likelihood of low bone density in children.
“These findings illustrate the positive impact on bone health of early childhood exposure to green areas near their homes during critical growth and development periods, with long-term implications,” wrote the researchers.
The results aligned with those of a prior study in which authors noted factors contributing to families’ frequent park visits, including shorter distances, safety, and park organization, as well as the natural diversity and activities offered.
One hypothesis explaining improved bone density in children visiting green areas was increased physical activity practiced in these locations. The mechanical load from exercise can activate signaling pathways favoring bone development. Literature also gathered data on the influence of green areas on young populations engaging in physical activities, showing positive outcomes.
According to the study authors, the findings are crucial for public health because they emphasize the need for urban investments in accessible green spaces as a strategy for fracture and osteoporosis prevention. In the long term, such initiatives translate to reduced public health expenses, along with physical and emotional gains in communities adopting environmental strategies, they concluded.
This article was translated from the Medscape Portuguese edition.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/bone-mineral-density-higher-kids-living-near-green-areas-2024a10001xn?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-01-29 11:40:54
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