“Nature Deficit Disorder” Gaining Wider Acceptance

In 2005, Richard Louv coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to better explain the growing concerns and ramifications associated with a person’s prolonged separation from nature. Louv focused the majority of his attention on children in his bestseller book, “Last Child in the Woods,” and there’s good reason why: American children now spend 90% of their time indoors according to the EPA. Yet in only a few short years, acceptance of “nature deficit disorder” as a legitimate psychological and societal issue is very much on the rise, including concern among the adult population as well.

This was the impetus for a weekend opinion piece in the New York Times by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Timothy Egan. In the article, Egan draws attention to the alarming rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity among both children and adults nationwide. “Medical costs associated with obesity and inactivity are nearly $150 billion a year,” Egan notes. Furthermore, he goes on to assert that “Kids who do play outside are less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns.” Yet, “in less than a generation’s time, millions of people [have] completely decoupled themselves from nature.”

So what can you or your family do about this burgeoning problem? The answer is simple: Go outside! And what better time to do so than the month of April in preparation for Earth Day!? In fact, going outside is an excellent way to structure practically any Earth Day activity while enjoying the great outdoors and getting some quality exercise and family time in the process. Here at Earth Day Network, we believe this to be especially true for our nation’s youth, and that’s why we have been champions of the No Child Left Inside Coalition since its original inception back in 2007. So check out our flagship event – which will be outside – on the National Mall in Washington, DC on Sunday, April, 22nd, or find an outdoors-related Earth Day related event in your local community. But in either case, enjoy the many benefits of going outside!