Living near green areas makes you smarter. This is the conclusion reached by a new study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Hasselt in Belgium, according to which children who grow up in greener urban areas have higher intelligence and lower levels of difficult behavior.
There is no doubt that the presence of Nature is healthy not only for the body but also for the mind of adults and children. There are various researches that have already shown it but the new study had the merit of discovering the correlation, in children and young people, between a higher IQ and the fact of living near green areas. The cause is uncertain, but it could be linked to lower stress levels, more play and social contacts, or a calmer environment.
“Exposure to greenery has beneficial effects on several cognitive and behavioral aspects. However, to our knowledge, no studies have addressed intelligence as a result. We investigated whether the level of urbanization could change the association between residential green space with intelligence and behavior in children ”explains the research team.
The study involved 620 children and is part of the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS), a twin birth registry in the province of East Flanders, Belgium. Intelligence was assessed with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) in 620 children (310 twin pairs) aged 7 to 15 years.
Prenatal and infant residential addresses were geocoded and used to assign indicators of the presence of green space.
“This longitudinal twin birth cohort study evaluated intelligence in 620 children between the ages of 7 and 15. Our results indicate that residential green space is particularly beneficial for the intellectual and behavioral development of children living in an urban environment, ”the researchers explain.
Comparing the data with satellite images useful for understanding the presence of greenery in neighborhoods, the scientists noted that a 3% increase in greenery in their neighborhood increased IQ by an average of 2.6 points . The effect was observed in both richer and poorer areas.
The average IQ score was 105. In contrast, the scientists found that 4% of children with a score below 80 grew up in areas with low levels of vegetation, while none scored below that level in areas with larger amounts of green.
“Our results indicate that residential green space can be beneficial for the intellectual and behavioral development of children living in urban areas. These findings are relevant for policy makers and planners to create an optimal environment in which children can develop their full potential, ”the research authors continue.
The study also looked at some behavioral difficulties such as poor attention and aggression, measured in children using a standard rating scale and the average score was 46. In this case, a 3% increase in green resulted in a reduction in colon of behavioral problems.