Young children in the three-five age group with no access to green and open places are at a higher risk of developing obesity by the time they turn seven, researchers report.
A study of 6,467 children from England found that no garden access for lower educated households (children age three-five years) increased the odds of obesity at seven years by 38 percent.
There was also a 38 percent increased risk of being overweight/developing obesity at seven years for children of higher educated households living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Being overweight or obese in childhood is an important risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes in adulthood.
“We showed that limits on access to outdoor space is associated with future childhood overweight/obesity although moderated by education level. More research is needed to see how we can deploy these findings in preventing Type 2 Diabetes,” said Annemarie Schalkwijk from VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The analysis used the Millennium Cohort Study: a nationally representative study of around 19,000 children born in Britain between 2000-2001 who were followed over time.
Data were taken from England, with the surveys carried out at age nine months, three years, five years and seven years.
After adjusting for parental influences and socioeconomic status (SES), the authors found that no garden access for children increased the odds of being overweight/developing obesity.
The authors are currently planning a further study on the influence of the environment on risk of being overweight/developing obesity.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Stockholm recently.