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New study links traffic pollution to childhood obesity

By Lewis Macdonald / Updated: 07 Oct 2014

Researchers in the United States have found that exposure to air pollution can play a role in developing childhood obesity. The four-year study, which involved measuring the BMI (Body Max Index) of 4 550 10-year-old children from California, found a 0.4 unit increase among children with the most exposure to air pollution compared to those with the least exposure.


The study supports efforts to reduce traffic emissions and the conclusions of previous research which has linked increased air pollution and traffic to slower metabolisms and weight gain. Air pollution has been found to cause inflammation which may affect metabolisms, and similar effects have been recorded in animal research using mice as test subjects.


Metabolic disorders such as diabetes have also been found at higher rates in more polluted areas. Another factor linking high traffic and pollution to weight gain could be that parents are less willing to allow children to walk and cycle in neighbourhoods with more traffic due to safety concerns.


For more information, read the European Commission's Science for Environment Policy News Alert.


Photo: nikoretro, Flickr

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