Nighttime Lights, Urban Features, Household Poverty, Depression, and Obesity

Yi-An Liao, Liliana Garcia-Mondragon, Deniz Konac, Xiaoxuan Liu, Alex Ing, Ran Goldblatt, Edward Barker

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Nighttime Light Emission (NLE) is associated with diminished mental and physical health. The present study examines how NLE and associated urban features (e.g., air pollution, low green space) impact mental and physical wellbeing. We included 200,393 UK Biobank Cohort participants with complete data. The study was carried out in two steps. In Step1, we assessed the relationship between NLE, deprivation, pollution, green space, household poverty and mental and physical symptoms. In Step2, we examined the role of NLE on environment-symptom networks. We stratified participants into high and low NLE and used gaussian graphical model to identify nodes which bridged urban features and mental and physical health problems. We then compared the global strength of these networks in high vs low NLE. We found that higher NLE associated with higher air pollution, less green space, higher economic and neighborhood deprivation, higher household poverty and higher depressed mood, higher tiredness/lethargy and obesity (Rtraining_mean = 0.2624, Ptraining_mean<.001; Rtest_mean=0.2619, Ptest_mean<.001). We also found that the interaction between environmental risk factors and mental, physical problems (overall network connectivity) was higher in the high NLE network than in the low NLE network (t=0.7896, P<.001). In areas with high NLE, economic deprivation, household poverty and waist circumference acted as bridge factors between the key urban features and mental health symptoms. In conclusion, NLE, urban features, household poverty and mental and physical symptoms are all interrelated. In areas with high NLE, urban features associate with mental and physical health problems at a greater magnitude than in areas with low NLE.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jan 2022


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