Editorial: Yes, there is such a thing as nature deficit disorder

Nature deficit disorder is a term that is gaining traction, especially among nature enthusiasts and environmental activists such as David Suzuki.

Author Richard Louv coined the term in a book entitled Last Child in the Woods.

The book claims to explore the direct link between the absence of nature in children’s lives to rising rates of obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Unfortunately, all of the links are based on correlations and not direct links.

The scientific evidence regarding the development of childhood obesity, summarized by a team led by Georgia Papoutsi, published in the Journal of Economic Surveys in 2012, points to a myriad of factors, from an increase in the consumption of soft-drinks, busing students to school, a decline in physical activity, socio-economic status and a host of other factors.

Likewise with the cause of attention disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

According to a 2013 review led by Anita Thapar published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, a myriad of factors can potentially lead to the development of attention disorders, both genetic and non-genetic, none involved the lack of communing with nature.

Nonetheless, being out in nature has many benefits.  For example, a 2006 study by Kuo and Taylor, published in the American Journal of Public Health found that subjects with attention disorders showed fewer symptoms of the disorder after spending time in nature.

This shouldn’t be a surprise as most people will say communing with nature has a calming effect.

Mother Nature does not have the ability to prevent obesity, depression or attention disorders, she can only attenuate the symptoms, and that, she does very well.


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