The world can learn a lot fro Kermit the Frog. Although at times even Kermie admits, “It’s not easy being green,” the fact is, growing up around greenery has a positive impact on IQ.
More than 600 children aged 10-15 took part in a study, published in Plos medicine, that compared the amount of green space in their neighborhoods to IQ scores and difficult behavior.
Researchers used satellite imagery to determine the level of greenery in neighborhoods around prenatal and childhood residential addresses.
“The average IQ score was 105 but the scientists found 4% of children in areas with low levels of greenery scored below 80, while no children scored below 80 in areas with more greenery,” The Guardian reports. “The benefits of more greenery that were recorded in urban areas were not replicated in suburban or rural areas. Nawrot suggested this may be because those places had enough greenness for all children living there to benefit.”
The study found that an increase of just 3% more greenery in the area coincided with a 2.6-point increase in IQ. Moreover, the results were the same in both affluent and low-income areas. The benefits of a green neighborhood don’t stop at intelligence, either. Researchers discovered that negative behaviors like aggressiveness and attention difficulties were also reduced in areas with increased greenery.
Thy found that a similar increase in green space prompted a 2% reduction in difficult behavioral issues.
“There is more and more evidence that green surroundings are associated with our cognitive function, such as memory skills and attention,” said Tim Nawrot, professor of environmental epidemiology at Hasselt University in Belgium. “What this study adds with IQ is a harder, well-established clinical measure. 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.”
This is the first study to directly correlate greenery and IQ, though it has long been suggested that more natural surroundings can boost cognitive development.
“The cause is uncertain but may be linked to lower stress levels, more play and social contact or a quieter environment,” The Guardian reports.
Especially for at-risk children and those who have been struggling with school work and behavioral issues, the results of this study are promising, and could lead to changes in the way communities are designed with children’s health in mind.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.