From The Lancet via The Washington Post:
Health inequalities between rich and poor people are much lower in areas that have lots of green space, such as parks, forests and playing fields, a large British study finds.(graphic from 19th Century map of Northern Essex Co.)
In areas with the most green space, the health gap between the richest and poorest people was about half as large as that in the least green areas -- an incident rate ratio (IRR) of 1.93 in the least green and 1.43 in the most green. IRR is a measure of how much higher the rate of death is among the poorest, when compared with that among the richest.
The difference in IRR for circulatory disease was even larger -- 2.19 in the least green areas and 1.54 in the most green. The study was published in this week's special issue of The Lancet, which focuses on social determinants of health.
"This study offers valuable evidence that green space does more than pretty up a neighborhood; it appears to have real effects on health inequality, of a kind that politicians and health authorities should take seriously," Dr. Terry Hartig, of the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, wrote