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Biodiversity intervention enhances immune regulation and health-associated commensal microbiota among daycare children

SCIENCE ADVANCES, 2020

As the incidence of immune-mediated diseases has increased rapidly in developed societies, there is an unmet need for novel prophylactic practices to fight against these maladies. This study is the first human intervention trial in which urban environmental biodiversity was manipulated to examine its effects on the commensal microbiome and immunoregulation in children.

Academic publication
Children and adolescents
Physical health

Residential green space and child intelligence and behavior across urban, suburban, and rural areas in Belgium: A longitudinal birth cohort study of twins

PLOS Medicine, 2020

Exposure to green space has beneficial effects on several cognitive and behavioral aspects. However, to our knowledge, no study addressed intelligence as outcome. We investigated whether the level of urbanicity can modify the association of residential green space with intelligence and behavior in children.

Academic publication
Children and adolescents
Mental health
Physical health

Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren

PNAS, 2015

Green spaces have a range of health benefits, but little is known in relation to cognitive development in children. This study, based on comprehensive characterization of outdoor surrounding greenness (at home, school, and during commuting) and repeated computerized cognitive tests in schoolchildren, found an improvement in cognitive development associated with surrounding greenness, particularly with greenness at schools. This association was partly mediated by reductions in air pollution. Our findings provide policymakers with evidence for feasible and achievable targeted interventions such as improving green spaces at schools to attain improvements in mental capital at population level.

Academic publication
Children and adolescents
Physical health

Associations of residential greenness with bone mineral density and osteoporosis: the modifying effect of genetic susceptibility. 

Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 2024

An increasing number of studies are focusing on the role of environmental factors in the development of osteoporosis. Previous studies have indicated that ambient air pollution exposure was linked to an elevated risk of osteoporosis. These findings provide inspiration for how enhancing environmental conditions can potentially mitigate the adverse effects of these hazards, thereby aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis. Meanwhile, the presence of green spaces, a significant factor in promoting health in urban environments, has been linked to decreased risk of negative outcomes, such as overall mortality, cardiorespiratory diseases and mental illness.

Academic publication
Physical health

Exploring service users’ and staff’s perspectives of outdoor clinical sessions

Mental Health Practice, 2024

There is growing interest in outdoor therapy sessions, which appear to have physical and mental health benefits, but there is still a lack of research in this area. A service evaluation was undertaken in a community rehabilitation service to explore the perspectives of service users and staff on outdoor clinical sessions. The rehabilitation team members work with people with severe and enduring mental health issues towards community reintegration. All participants had positive views of outdoor sessions, which were described as supporting people to overcome anxiety, develop confidence and reconnect with the community. Suggestions on how to improve the sessions included staff training and allocating more time. Difficulties included the unpredictability of the environment, logistical barriers and maintaining confidentiality.

Academic publication
Mental health
Nature connection

Spatial distributive effects of public green space and COVID-19 infection in London

Elsevier, 2021

While public green spaces (PGS) are opined to be central in the pandemic recovery, higher accessibility to PGS also mean a higher risk of infection spread from the raised possibility of people encountering each other. This study explores the distributive effects of accessibility of PGS on the COVID-19 cases distribution using a geo-spatially varying network-based risk model at the borough level in London.

Inequality and access
Physical health

Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function

Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, 2010

In Japan, a forest bathing trip, called “Shinrinyoku” in Japanese, is a short, leisurely visit to a forest; it is regarded as being similar to natural aromatherapy. This review focuses on the effects of forest bathing trips on human immune function.

Nature connection
Physical health
Trees and woodland

Space to Breathe

Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, 2020

Staff stress has long been a critical issue for the NHS, where in 2019 more than four in 10 staff reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress in the previous 12 months. These problems have been greatly exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, making staff wellbeing a greater priority now than ever. Our research shows that there is a strong appetite among health staff to take time outdoors – either for breaks or in the course of work – and points to a range of wellbeing benefits.

CSH contributed
Mental health
Nature connection
staff wellbeing

The potential of urban trees to reduce heat-related mortality in London

Environmental Research, 2024

Increasing temperatures and more frequent heatwave events pose threats to population health, particularly in urban environments due to the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Greening, in particular planting trees, is widely discussed as a means of reducing heat exposure and associated mortality in cities. This study aims to use data from personal weather stations (PWS) across the Greater London Authority to understand how urban temperatures vary according to tree canopy coverage and estimate the heat-health impacts of London’s urban trees.

Academic publication
Climate change
Physical health
Trees and woodland

Influencing healthier and more sustainable dietary behaviours throughplanting and harvesting food-producing trees and hedges in the UK

Faculty of Public Health, 2024

This paper provides information and makes recommendations for the public health community to influence and support dietary behaviours through planting and harvesting food-producing trees and hedges.

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