Growing up in a greener urban environment boosts children’s intelligence and lowers levels of difficult behaviour, a study has found.
The analysis of more than 600 children aged 10-15 showed a 3% increase in the greenness of their neighbourhood raised their IQ score by an average of 2.6 points. The effect was seen in both richer and poorer areas.
There is already significant evidence that green spaces improve various aspects of children’s cognitive development but this is the first research to examine IQ. The cause is uncertain but may be linked to lower stress levels, more play and social contact or a quieter environment.
The increase in IQ points was particularly significant for those children at the lower end of the spectrum, where small increases could make a big difference, the researchers said.
“There is more and more evidence that green surroundings are associated with our cognitive function, such as memory skills and attention,” said Tim Nawrot, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Hasselt University in Belgium, where the study was conducted.