Is neighbourhood green space associated with a lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus? Evidence from 267,072 Australians

  1. Gregory S. Kolt, PhD1
  1. 1School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom
  3. 3Centre for Health Research, School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  1. Corresponding Author: Thomas Astell-Burt, E-mail: T.Astell-Burt{at}


Objective Lifestyle interventions for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) are best positioned for success if participants live in supportive neighbourhood environments. Deprived neighbourhoods increase T2DM risk. Parks and other ‘green spaces’ promote active lifestyles and, therefore, may reduce T2DM risk. We investigated association between neighbourhood green space and the risk of T2DM in a large group of adult Australians.

Research Design and Methods Multilevel logit regression was used to fit associations between medically-diagnosed T2DM and green space exposure among 267,072 participants in The 45 and Up Study. Green space data was obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and exposure was calculated using a 1km buffer from a participant’s place of residence. Odds Ratios (ORs) were controlled for measures of demographic, cultural, health, diet, active lifestyles, socioeconomic status and neighbourhood circumstances.

Results The rate of T2DM was 9.1% among participants in neighbourhoods with 0-20% green space, but this rate dropped to approximately 8% for participants with over 40% green space within their residential neighbourhoods. The risk of T2DM was significantly lower in greener neighbourhoods controlling for demographic and cultural factors, especially among participants residing in neighbourhoods with 41-60% green space land-use (OR: 0.87, 95% CI 0.83, 0.92). This association was consistent after controlling for other explanatory variables and did not vary according to neighbourhood circumstances.

Conclusions People in greener surroundings have a lower risk of T2DM. Planning, promoting and maintaining local green spaces is important in multi-sector initiatives for addressing the T2DM epidemic.

  • Received June 4, 2013.
  • Accepted September 1, 2013.

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  1. Diabetes Care
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