Healthy Living

Study: Seeing Trees Can Help Reduce Cravings For Food, Alcohol And Cigarettes

To those trying to avoid or reduce consumption of food, nature might help you. A new study suggests that seeing spaces with trees and plants could help reduce cravings for food as well as alcohol and cigarettes. 

Researchers said their study is the first to show the link between green space and lower frequencies and strengths of craving. The team also called on cities and towns to invest in natural environments or parks to help the public enjoy nature’s health benefits. 

“It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person's wellbeing,” Leanne Martin, lead researcher from the University of Plymouth, said in a statement. “This is the first study to explore this idea, and it could have a range of implications for both public health and environmental protection programmes in the future.”

Craving plays a key role in the development of health-damaging behaviors, according to Sabine Pahl, associate professor of psychology at Plymouth. People may struggle to control smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating. 

“These can contribute to some of the greatest global health challenges of our time, including cancer, obesity and diabetes,” Pahl said. “Showing that lower craving is linked to more exposure to green spaces is a promising first step.”

The findings, published in the journal Health & Place, come from data gathered through an online survey. The researchers mainly asked respondents about nature exposure and craving problems.

The survey also included details about the proportion of greenspace in the residential neighbourhood, green views from their home, access to a garden and how often a person spends time in public greenspaces.

The researchers found that access to a garden or allotment could reduce craving strength and frequency. The people who can see natural environments from their house also showed significantly lower interest in smoking, drinking alcohol and harmful food. 

When considering physical activity, the researchers said greenspace also delivered the same effect on craving. However, the team noted further study is required to better understand how nature can help people avoid unhealthy behaviors. 

Girl Nature Exposure to nature has long been linked to improved health, including less interest in eating unhealthy, smoking and drinking alcohol. Pixabay