According to a study, children who live in close proximity to green areas have better bone health.
A recent study has discovered that children who live near green spaces tend to have stronger bones, which could potentially have positive effects on their long-term health.
Researchers discovered that children residing in areas with 20-25% greater natural surroundings had improved bone density, comparable to six months of natural growth.
This groundbreaking study discovered that the likelihood of children having extremely low bone density was reduced by approximately 65%.
The researchers suggested that by increasing the availability of green spaces for children, it could prevent fractures and osteoporosis in older individuals. This is because bone strength typically increases during childhood and adolescence, levels off until around age 50, and then begins to decline.
The correlation between green areas and increased bone strength is probably due to the increased physical activity of children living near parks, which promotes bone development. The relationship was most significant for green spaces with trees, which the researchers believe may be because these locations are more appealing to visit.
According to Professor Tim Nawrot from Hasselt University in Belgium, who worked on the study alongside Dr. Hanne Sleurs and others, having a higher bone mass during childhood leads to greater capacity later in life. The study suggests that urban planners can play a crucial role in promoting strong bones in children, which can have lasting effects on their health.
Prior studies have demonstrated that increased availability of green areas boosts physical activity among children. Additionally, research has revealed numerous advantages for child growth, such as decreased likelihood of obesity, lower blood pressure, enhanced cognitive abilities, and improved mental and emotional health.
Natural areas are also connected to improved physical and emotional well-being among grown-ups. Walking through forests is believed to result in saving £185 million annually in mental health expenses in the UK.
A report, released in the publication JAMA Network Open, monitored over 300 children living in different areas of Flanders, Belgium, including urban, suburban, and rural locations.
Researchers utilized ultrasound technology to assess the bone density of children between the ages of four and six. Factors such as age, weight, height, ethnicity, and maternal education level were considered in the analysis.
The findings indicated that children with a 25% increase in green space within a 1,000-meter radius of their home had a 66% decreased likelihood of having significantly low bone density, specifically falling within the lowest 10% of measurements. There was no notable distinction between the genders of the participants in the research.
The findings of the study are significant because poor bone development during youth can have a significant impact on the development of osteoporosis, similar to the effects of bone loss in old age.
The impact of screen time, vitamin supplements, and daily intake of dairy products on children’s results was examined, but no notable effects were discovered.
The research found a significant correlation between the presence of green areas nearby and the strength of bones in children. However, it was not designed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. To achieve that, the children would have to wear accelerometers to track their level of physical activity. According to Nawrot, this would be a challenging experiment to conduct.
Two recent studies on bone density in adults and green spaces produced conflicting results. An analysis of 66,000 people in south-west China found a significant positive link. But research on 4,000 people aged 65 and older in Hong Kong did not find a convincing association, possibly because Hong Kong is a very densely populated city with little green space.