Association between community greenness and obesity in urban-dwelling Chinese adults

Wen Zhong Huang, Bo Yi Yang, Hong Yao Yu, Michael S. Bloom, Iana Markevych, Joachim Heinrich, Luke D. Knibbs, Ari Leskinen, Shyamali C. Dharmage, Bin Jalaludin, Lidia Morawska, Pasi Jalava, Yuming Guo, Shao Lin, Yang Zhou, Ru Qing Liu, Dan Feng, Li Wen Hu, Xiao Wen Zeng, Qiang HuYunjing Yu, Guang Hui Dong

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Living in greener places may protect against obesity, but epidemiological evidence is inconsistent and mainly comes from developed nations. We aimed to investigate the association between greenness and obesity in Chinese adults and to assess air pollution and physical activity as mediators of the association. We recruited 24,845 adults from the 33 Communities Chinese Health Study in 2009. Central and peripheral obesity were defined by waist circumference (WC) and body mass index (BMI), respectively, based on international obesity standards. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was used to quantify community greenness. Two-level logistic and generalized linear mixed regression models were used to evaluate the association between NDVI and obesity, and a conditional mediation analysis was used also performed. In the adjusted models, an interquartile range increase in NDVI500-m was significantly associated with lower odds of peripheral 0.80 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.74–0.87) and central obesity 0.88 (95% CI: 0.83–0.93). Higher NDVI values were also significantly associated with lower BMI. Age, gender, and household income significantly modified associations between greenness and obesity, with stronger associations among women, older participants, and participants with lower household incomes. Air pollution mediated 2.1–20.8% of the greenness-obesity associations, but no mediating effects were observed for physical activity. In summary, higher community greenness level was associated with lower odds of central and peripheral obesity, especially among women, older participants, and those with lower household incomes. These associations were partially mediated by air pollutants. Future well-designed longitudinal studies are needed to confirm our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135040
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Chinese adults
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Green space
  • Mediation analysis
  • Obesity

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