"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead
Original article
peer-reviewed

The Relationship Between Access to Natural Environmental Amenities and Obesity



Abstract

Background

Various aspects of the environment are correlated with obesity. Most of the previous work in this area centers on the built environment. We sought to better understand the association of the natural environment with obesity.

Methods

We used the Natural Amenities Scale to characterize the attractiveness of 2,545 US counties based on access to open water, varied topography, and mild climate. We obtained the height, weight, age, sex, and address of adults from three different sources. The Departments of Motor Vehicles from seven US states provided over 38 million records. A web survey contributed 3,012 from 48 states and the District of Columbia. A clinical study of adults with diabetes from four states provided 974 more for a total of 38,159,046 analyzable records. We used logistic regression to model the association of obesity with natural amenities while controlling for age, sex, year of data collection, and various socioeconomic characteristics of the county.

Results

Natural amenities were inversely associated with obesity in all three populations. Over 20% of residents of low amenity areas were obese, but less than 10% of those living with the best natural amenities were obese.

Conclusions

The natural environment may affect health. Residing in areas with access to open water and a variety of topographic features as well as cool, dry summers and warm, sunny winters is associated with lower rates of obesity.



Want to read more?

Create a free account to continue reading this article.

Already a member? Login.



Original article
peer-reviewed

The Relationship Between Access to Natural Environmental Amenities and Obesity


Author Information

Benjamin Littenberg Corresponding Author

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

Levi N. Bonnell

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Ayodelle S. LeBruin

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

Derek A. Lubetkin

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

Austin R. Troy

Department of Planning and Design, University of Colorado Denver

Asim Zia

Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont


Ethics Statement and Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Human subjects: Consent was obtained by all participants in this study. The University of Vermont Committees on Human Subjects issued approval 14-207. Animal subjects: All authors have confirmed that this study did not involve animal subjects or tissue. Conflicts of interest: In compliance with the ICMJE uniform disclosure form, all authors declare the following: Payment/services info: All authors have declared that no financial support was received from any organization for the submitted work. Financial relationships: All authors have declared that they have no financial relationships at present or within the previous three years with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work. Other relationships: All authors have declared that there are no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.


Original article
peer-reviewed

The Relationship Between Access to Natural Environmental Amenities and Obesity


Figures etc.

Share
Original article
peer-reviewed

The Relationship Between Access to Natural Environmental Amenities and Obesity

Benjamin Littenberg">Benjamin Littenberg , Levi N. Bonnell">Levi N. Bonnell, Ayodelle S. LeBruin">Ayodelle S. LeBruin, Derek A. Lubetkin">Derek A. Lubetkin, Austin R. Troy">Austin R. Troy, Asim Zia">Asim Zia

  • Author Information
    Benjamin Littenberg Corresponding Author

    General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

    Levi N. Bonnell

    Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

    Ayodelle S. LeBruin

    General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

    Derek A. Lubetkin

    General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

    Austin R. Troy

    Department of Planning and Design, University of Colorado Denver

    Asim Zia

    Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont


    Ethics Statement and Conflict of Interest Disclosures

    Human subjects: Consent was obtained by all participants in this study. The University of Vermont Committees on Human Subjects issued approval 14-207. Animal subjects: All authors have confirmed that this study did not involve animal subjects or tissue. Conflicts of interest: In compliance with the ICMJE uniform disclosure form, all authors declare the following: Payment/services info: All authors have declared that no financial support was received from any organization for the submitted work. Financial relationships: All authors have declared that they have no financial relationships at present or within the previous three years with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work. Other relationships: All authors have declared that there are no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

    Acknowledgements


    Article Information

    Published: November 11, 2015

    DOI

    10.7759/cureus.377

    Cite this article as:

    Littenberg B, Bonnell L N, Lebruin A S, et al. (November 11, 2015) The Relationship Between Access to Natural Environmental Amenities and Obesity. Cureus 7(11): e377. doi:10.7759/cureus.377

    Publication history

    Received by Cureus: August 08, 2015
    Peer review began: August 12, 2015
    Peer review concluded: October 29, 2015
    Published: November 11, 2015

    Copyright

    © Copyright 2015
    Littenberg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 3.0., which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    License

    This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Background

Various aspects of the environment are correlated with obesity. Most of the previous work in this area centers on the built environment. We sought to better understand the association of the natural environment with obesity.

Methods

We used the Natural Amenities Scale to characterize the attractiveness of 2,545 US counties based on access to open water, varied topography, and mild climate. We obtained the height, weight, age, sex, and address of adults from three different sources. The Departments of Motor Vehicles from seven US states provided over 38 million records. A web survey contributed 3,012 from 48 states and the District of Columbia. A clinical study of adults with diabetes from four states provided 974 more for a total of 38,159,046 analyzable records. We used logistic regression to model the association of obesity with natural amenities while controlling for age, sex, year of data collection, and various socioeconomic characteristics of the county.

Results

Natural amenities were inversely associated with obesity in all three populations. Over 20% of residents of low amenity areas were obese, but less than 10% of those living with the best natural amenities were obese.

Conclusions

The natural environment may affect health. Residing in areas with access to open water and a variety of topographic features as well as cool, dry summers and warm, sunny winters is associated with lower rates of obesity.



Want to read more?

Create a free account to continue reading this article.

Already a member? Login.



Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., Professor

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

For correspondence:
benjamin.littenberg@uvm.edu

Levi N. Bonnell

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Ayodelle S. LeBruin

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

Derek A. Lubetkin

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

Austin R. Troy

Department of Planning and Design, University of Colorado Denver

Asim Zia

Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont

Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., Professor

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

For correspondence:
benjamin.littenberg@uvm.edu

Levi N. Bonnell

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Ayodelle S. LeBruin

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

Derek A. Lubetkin

General Internal Medicine Research, University of Vermont

Austin R. Troy

Department of Planning and Design, University of Colorado Denver

Asim Zia

Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont