Obesity and Natural Spaces in Adults and Older People: A Systematic Review

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Obesity is an important public health issue that has increased globally in the last decade and continues to be one of the main causes of morbidity and premature mortality. An accumulating body of evidence suggests that contact with nature is a valuable resource for the promotion of a more active lifestyle and seems to have a central role in maintaining a healthy weight. The authors conducted a systematic review to summarize the findings of studies that investigated the relationship between natural spaces and obesity. Methods: Following Primary Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, a literature search was conducted using 11 databases for studies fully available in English and published between 2010 and 2020, with adults (18–64 y) and/or older people (≥65 y). Results: Fifty studies were found that met all the inclusion criteria. The majority (68%) of papers found that higher availability and less distance to green and blue spaces are associated with lower levels of adiposity. These associations were positive, even after adjusting for the demographic and socioeconomic factors. Conclusions: Exploring the characteristics of green and blue spaces seems to be a promising tool for urban planning and health policies. The authors suggest the implementation of exercise programs in contact with nature for future interventions.

Teixeira is with the University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Gabriel, Quaresma, and Moreira are with the Department of Sports Sciences, Exercise and Health, University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Gabriel and Moreira are also with the Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences (CITAB), University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Moreira is also with the Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development (CIDESD), University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Alencoão and Martinho are with the Department of Geology, Geosciences Center of the University of Coimbra (CGeo), University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal.

Moreira (hmoreira@utad.pt) is corresponding author.

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