Air Pollution Causes Weight Gain, Study Suggests

By | Feb 23, 2016 01:31 PM EST
A new study suggests that increase exposure to air pollution can cause weight gain

A new study suggests that exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes.(Photo : Getty Images)

People worry about the respiratory and cardiovascular effects air pollution carry; however, a new study suggests that it can cause metabolic dysfunction too, increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes.

In an experiment, Duke University researchers exposed two groups of lab rats either to Beijing's smoggy air or filtered air for 19 days. Both groups of rats were fed on the same diet.

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The researchers found out that rats exposed to Beijing's notorious air experienced an increase in bad cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol levels at 50, 46 and 97 percent, respectively. They also showed increased levels of insulin resistance. These are all factors that increase the risk of developing diabetes and obesity.

Meanwhile, compared with their counterparts that breathed clean, filtered air, the rats exposed to Beijing's smog were 18 to 10 percent heavier.

According to health professor from Duke University and lead author Junfeng "Jim" Zhang, the pollutants present in the air causes oxidative stress inflammation of the organs and circulatory system, symptoms commonly known as metabolism dysfunction, which are precurors of obesity.

If the same results appear in humans, this research will highlight the immediate need to combat air pollution, given the growing problem of obesity and diabetes in today.

The experiment was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China for the specialist Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.        

Meanwhile, authorities in Beijing are planning to erect a network of ventilation corridors to address the issue of air pollution. These will help ease up air flow and blow away dangerous particles, pollutants and smog.

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