Green space has been associated with better health and well-being. However, most studies have been cross-sectional with limited long-term exposure data. Further, research is limited in what type of green space is beneficial for health. We conducted a longitudinal study to assess sensitive periods (birth, childhood or adulthood) of exposure to different types of green space in association with adult blood pressure and body mass index (BMI). Using longitudinal data from the New England Family Study (1960-2000) and multilevel regression analysis, we examined associations between time-varying markers of residential exposure to green space, and adult BMI, systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (N = 517). We created three exposure metrics: distance, average area, and green space count in the neighborhood throughout the life-course. In adjusted models, living one mile farther away from a green space at birth was associated with a 5.6 mmHg higher adult SBP (95%CI: 0.7, 10.5), and 3.5 mmHg higher DBP (95%CI: 0.3, 6.8). One more green space in the neighborhood at birth was also associated with lower DBP (-0.2 mmHg, 95%CI: -0.4, -0.02) in adulthood. Finally, average area of green space was not associated with SBP, DBP nor BMI. Analysis by type of green space suggested that parks may be more relevant than playgrounds, cemeteries or golf courses. Our study suggests that the perinatal period may be a critical time-period where living closer to green spaces may lower hypertension risk in adulthood, but not obesity.
Associations of types of green space across the life-course with blood pressure and body mass index.