Children who grow up in neighborhoods that contain trees, parks, gardens, and lawns, have higher intelligence quotients (IQs) and a lower risk for engaging in inappropriate behavior according to a study at Hasselt University in Belgium. The effect was seen in both richer and poorer areas, researchers said.
Tim Nawrot, professor of environmental epidemiology at the university said that the more than 600 children ages 10 through 15 studied by researchers showed that as little as a 3-percent increase in the so-called “greenness” of their neighborhoods raised their IQ scores by 2.6 points.
The increase in IQ points was particularly significant for those children at the lower end of the spectrum, researchers said.
“There is more and more evidence that green surroundings are associated with our cognitive function, such as memory skills and attention,” said Tim Nawrot, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Hasselt University in Belgium, where the study was conducted.
Also, a 3% increase in neighborhood greenery resulted in a two-point reduction in behavioral problems, including lack of attention and aggressiveness, he said.
Finally, results of the study could affect the way urban planners design cities, Nawrot said.
“I think city builders or urban planners should prioritize investment in green spaces because it is really of value to create an optimal environment for children to develop their full potential, he said.
The study was published in the journal Plos Medicine earlier this month.