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The impact of intervening in green space in Dutch deprived neighbourhoods on physical activity and general health: results from the quasi-experimental URBAN40 study
  1. Mariël Droomers1,
  2. Birthe Jongeneel-Grimen1,
  3. Daniëlle Kramer1,
  4. Sjerp de Vries2,
  5. Stef Kremers3,
  6. Jan-Willem Bruggink4,
  7. Hans van Oers5,6,
  8. Anton E Kunst1,
  9. Karien Stronks1
  1. 1Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Alterra/Department of Cultural Geography, Wageningen University & Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Health Promotion, Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Socio-Economic and Spatial Statistics, Statistics Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands
  5. 5National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands
  6. 6Tranzo Scientific Centre for Care and Welfare, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mariël Droomers, Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 22660, Amsterdam 1100DD, The Netherlands; m.droomers{at}


Background Many problems concentrate in deprived neighbourhoods, among which is poor health. One possible way to address these health problems is to invest in the green space in deprived neighbourhoods. The number of evaluations of the public health impact of actual changes in neighbourhood green space is still limited. This study investigated the impact of real-life changes in the quality or quantity of green space in severely deprived neighbourhoods on physical activity and perceived general health.

Methods Repeated cross-sectional surveys from 2004 till 2011 yielded self-reported information on leisure time walking, cycling and sports, and perceived general health of 48 132 adult residents. We fitted generalised mixed models to assess the rate of change per half year, estimate the linear trend, and the change in trends before and after the start of the urban regeneration mid-2008. Using a quasi-experimental design, we compared the trends in the intervention neighbourhoods with different selections of control areas.

Results The deprived neighbourhoods that intervened in green space did not show more favourable changes in the trend of physical activity and good general health compared to all the different groups of control areas.

Conclusions We did not observe short-term positive effects on physical activity and general health among adults from improvements in green space in deprived neighbourhoods. This suggests that greening interventions that have been carried out in the context of the Dutch District Approach did not achieve short-term health gains among adults.

  • Neighborhood/place
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