An ecological study of the association between area-level green space and adult mortality in Hong Kong

There is evidence that access to green spaces have positive effects on health, possibly through beneficial effects on exercise, air quality, urban heat islands, and stress. Few previous studies have examined the associations between green space and mortality, and they have given inconsistent results. This ecological study relates green space to mortality in Hong Kong from 2006 to 2011. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a measure of green space coverage, was measured for 199 small geographic areas in Hong Kong. Negative Binomial Regression Models were fit for mortality outcomes with NDVI, age, gender, population density, and area-level socio-economic variables as predictors, with Generalized Estimating Equations used to control for within-cluster correlation. An interquartile range (0.44 units) higher NDVI was significantly associated with lower cardiovascular (relative risk (RR) = 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.80, 0.98) and diabetes (RR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.60, 0.92) mortality, and non-significantly associated with lower chronic respiratory mortality (RR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.79, 1.02). Associations were stronger for males and low-income area residents. Lung cancer mortality had no significant association with green space. Better provision of urban green space, particularly in low-income areas, appears to have potential to reduce mortality in densely-populated Asian cities.

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