Greenspace is theoretically a valuable resource for physical activity and hence has potential to contribute to reducing obesity and improving health. This paper reports on a systematic review of quantitative research examining the association between objectively measured access to greenspace and (i) Physical activity, (ii) Weight status and (iii) Health conditions related to elevated weight. Literature searches were conducted in SCOPUS, Medline, Embase and PYSCHINFO. Sixty studies met the inclusion criteria and were assessed for methodological quality and strength of the evidence. The majority (68%) of papers found a positive or weak association between greenspace and obesity-related health indicators, but findings were inconsistent and mixed across studies. Several studies found the relationship varied by factors such as age, socioeconomic status and greenspace measure. Developing a theoretical framework which considers the correlates and interactions between different types of greenspace and health would help study design and interpretation of reported findings, as would improvement in quality and consistency of greenspace access measures. Key areas for future research include investigating if and how people actually use greenspace and improving understanding of the mechanisms through which greenspace can improve health and, in particular, if physical activity is one such mechanism.
© 2011 The Authors. obesity reviews © 2011 International Association for the Study of Obesity.