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Low Childhood Nature Exposure is Associated with Worse Mental Health in Adulthood

1
Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Minderbroedersberg 4-6, 6211 LK Maastricht, The Netherlands
2
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
3
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
4
CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Melchor Fernández Almagro 3-5, 28029 Madrid, Spain
5
Centre for Health and Development, Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2DF, UK
6
Department of Environmental Sciences, Vytautas Magnus University, K. Donelaicio str. 58, 44248 Kaunas, Lithuania
7
Center for Sustainability, Environment and Health, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(10), 1809; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16101809
Received: 28 March 2019 / Revised: 23 April 2019 / Accepted: 24 April 2019 / Published: 22 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
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Abstract

Exposure to natural outdoor environments (NOE) is associated with health benefits; however, evidence on the impact of NOE exposure during childhood on mental health (MH) and vitality in adulthood is scarce. This study was based on questionnaire data collected from 3585 participants, aged 18–75, in the PHENOTYPE project (2013) in four European cities. Mixed models were used to investigate associations between childhood NOE exposure and (i) MH; (ii) vitality (perceived level of energy and fatigue); and (iii) potential mediation by perceived amount, use, satisfaction, importance of NOE, and residential surrounding greenness, using pooled and city-level data. Adults with low levels of childhood NOE exposure had, when compared to adults with high levels of childhood NOE exposure, significantly worse mental health (coef. −4.13; 95% CI −5.52, −2.74). Childhood NOE exposure was not associated with vitality. Low levels of childhood NOE exposure were associated with lower importance of NOE (OR 0.81; 95% CI 0.66, 0.98) in adulthood. The association with perceived amount of NOE differed between cities. We found no evidence for mediation. Childhood NOE exposure might be associated with mental well-being in adulthood. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and to identify mechanisms underlying long-term benefits of childhood NOE exposure. View Full-Text
Keywords: childhood nature exposure; natural outdoor environments; nature perception; mental health; vitality; greenness; green space childhood nature exposure; natural outdoor environments; nature perception; mental health; vitality; greenness; green space
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Preuß, M.; Nieuwenhuijsen, M.; Marquez, S.; Cirach, M.; Dadvand, P.; Triguero-Mas, M.; Gidlow, C.; Grazuleviciene, R.; Kruize, H.; Zijlema, W. Low Childhood Nature Exposure is Associated with Worse Mental Health in Adulthood. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1809.

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