Obesity is a complex disorder with many factors that include not just diet and exercise, but also environmental, emotional, and socioeconomic as well. In an effort to help lower rates and cure obesity, it is essential to identify the causes and work towards reversing them. A recent study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has found evidence that air pollution is another factor that may contribute to childhood obesity.
The study involved 702 non-smoking African-American or Dominican women, aged 18-35, living in areas of northern Manhattan or southern Bronx and having a predominantly low income. During the third trimester of their pregnancy, the women would wear a device that continually sampled the air surrounding them for PAHs (polycyclic aromatic compounds), common urban pollutants that are released into the air by the burning of organic substances such as coal, diesel, oil, gas, and tobacco.
The results of the study showed that the children of the women exposed to high levels of PAHs during pregnancy were 1.79 times as likely to be obese by age 5, and 2.26 times more likely to be obese by age 7 than those children whose mothers were exposed to lower levels of PAH’s. That is a twice-as-likely chance of being obese due to higher pollutant exposure! And, according to Dr. Rundle, “not only was their body mass higher, but it was higher due to body fat rather than bone or muscle mass.”
These findings also coincide with several animal studies that have shown that exposure to PAHs causes a gain in fat mass, and prevention normal lipolysis (the process by which fat cells break down and shrink).
This study is a breakthrough in identifying causes of childhood obesity, as it equalizes the other known factors of low-income, neighborhood poverty, cigarette smoke, and proximity to high-traffic roads. If there weren’t a million other reasons why the burning of fossil fuels needs to cease, and new energy sources need to be explored, this is one is enough in itself. Less burning of fossil fuels means less air pollution, which, according to this study, could mean less childhood obesity.
Source Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120416130358.htm
Posted by Laura Moro (2)