Dr Jamie Pearce was part of a team of researchers considering the impact of the introduction of legislation in New Zealand that restricted the places where people can smoke. The results of the study, published recently, suggested that whilst the introduction of the smoking legislation has reduced the rate of hospital admissions due to heart attacks, this effect may be greater in males, older age groups and those living in more affluent neighbourhoods. The research was published in the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. Reports on the findings have appeared on the BBC, ITV, national newspapers as well as various international media outlets. For example, see:
Green spaces keep men healthy
Jun 21, 2010
Recent work by Dr Elizabeth Richardson and Prof Richard Mitchell attracted considerable media interest recently.
Their study found that men who live in neighbourhoods with more green space are less likely to die from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases – conditions that account for almost half of all deaths in the UK. But it also found that these benefits of greener neighbourhoods do not extend to women. The results were a surprise because it had previously been widely assumed that green spaces are equally good for everyone, through offering opportunities for physical activity and social contacts for example. The reasons for the findings were unclear, but other literature tells us that women use green space less than men and don’t exercise as much there, particularly if they perceive the area to be unsafe or threatening. This could explain the findings.
The study was the first to study green space and health relationships for the UK as a whole, as the researchers combined remotely sensed data and Ordnance Survey map data to quantify green space at a national level. Mortality statistics based on a population of almost 30 million adults were used, giving the results substantial significance. It should be stressed that as the study only considered mortality statistics it cannot be assumed that women’s health does not benefit from green space in other ways.
The paper “Gender differences in relationships between urban green space and health in the United Kingdom” was funded by the Forestry Commission and originally published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, but has now received diverse coverage through outlets such as BBC Radio Scotland, the Daily Telegraph, and even The Sun, where the headline read “Park life is better for blokes’ hearts”.
You can now download our estimates of the amount of the green space in every ward in the whole UK. These data are available for free, and all we ask is that you acknowledge us as their creator, and cite the appropriate reference. The estimates can be found from here or via our Downloads page