Look out the Green Window to Reduce Cravings

Having access to greenspace, even the view from a window, can reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, alcohol and tobacco

Look out the Green Window to Reduce Cravings

By the wlr team

Key Takeaway

  • Access to gardens/allotments and residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace were both associated with reductions in the strength and frequency of cravings for unhealthy foods, alcohol and tobacco

Led by the University of Plymouth, this study is the first to demonstrate the benefits of passive exposure to nearby greenspace.

It builds on previous research suggesting exercising in nature can reduce cravings, by demonstrating the same may be true irrespective of physical activity.

The Study

Carried out by researchers from the University of Plymouth the study set out to investigate the relationship between exposure to natural environments, craving for a range of appetitive substances and the experiencing of negative emotions or feelings.

Leanne Martin, who led the research as part of her Master's degree in Plymouth, said:

"It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person's wellbeing.

But for there to be a similar association with cravings from simply being able to see green spaces adds a new dimension to previous research."

For the research, participants completed an online survey that explored the relationships between various aspects of nature exposure, craving and negative effect.

Among other things, it measured:

  • The proportion of greenspace in an individual's residential neighbourhood,
  • The presence of green views from their home,
  • Access to a garden or allotment
  • Frequency of use of public greenspaces

Results

Having access to a garden or allotment was associated with both lower craving strength and frequency.

Residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace evoked similar responses.

The study also measured physical activity undertaken within the same time frame that cravings were assessed, showing the reduced craving occurred irrespective of physical activity level.

Researcher’s Comment

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor in Psychology, added:

"Craving contributes to a variety of health-damaging behaviours such as smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating.

In turn, these can contribute to some of the greatest global health challenges of our time, including cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Showing that lower craving is linked to more exposure to green spaces is a promising first step.

Future research should investigate if and how green spaces can be used to help people withstand problematic cravings, enabling them to better manage cessation attempts in the future."

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References

Natural environments and craving: The mediating role of negative affect Health & Place

Press Release University of Plymouth

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