Green, happy teens

A new US study has found yet another health benefit of ‘green space’ – teenagers who live in neighbourhoods with more greenery may have less aggressive behaviours.

Previous research has already shown the important effect that our environment can have on our health, however not much is known about how our outdoor environment can influence behaviour.

Over 1 000 teenagers studied

University of Southern California (USC) researchers looked at 1 287 adolescents age nine to 18 years living in urban communities in Southern California to see whether greenery in their neighbourhood could reduce the teens’ levels of aggressive behaviour.

The team assessed the levels of aggressive behaviours every two to three years by asking parents if their child physically attacked or threatened others, destroyed things, or demonstrated any similar aggressive behaviour.

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Satellite data was then used to measure the level of greenery in the area.

Researchers believe that increasing greenery in urban environments could decrease the number of clinical cases of aggressive behaviours in California teens by 12 percent.

The findings:

  • The results showed that the teens who lived in greener areas showed significantly fewer aggressive behaviours than those living in neighbourhoods with less greenery.
  • The researchers measured the benefit of this green space as being equal to approximately two to two-and-a-half years of adolescent maturation.
  • The results showed that both short-term (one to six months) and long-term (one to three years) exposure to green space had a positive effect.
  • The benefits were also seen across both boys and girls, all races/ethnicities, and across populations with different socioeconomic backgrounds who lived in neighbourhoods of varying quality.

Based on these findings, the researchers now believe that increasing the greenery in urban environments could decrease the number of clinical cases of aggressive behaviours in California teens by 12 percent.

The results are set to be published in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

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Author: AFP - Relax News