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Air pollution link to obesity

Katie Coyne08/11/2018 - 13:18

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Air pollution linked to obesity
Air pollution linked to obesity

Exposure to high levels of near-roadway air pollution while in the womb and in the first year of life could lead to obesity later in life, a US study has found.

Published in the journal Environmental Health, the results reveal that that higher exposure to near-roadway air pollution results in a greater Body Mass Index, used to indicate healthy weight levels, at age ten.

Road pollution is the highest contributor of nitrogen oxides, including nitrogen dioxide, that is at illegally high limits across most UK urban areas. The UK government has been taken to court over this issue three times.

Scientists from the University of Southern California followed 2,318 children to see how pollution would affect their bodies. They concluded: ‘These findings suggest that elevated early life near-roadway air pollution exposures contribute to increased obesity risk in children.’

The report follows a much broader study by the World Health Organisation that reveals that around 90 per cent of children globally under the age of 15, breath toxic air every day.

WHO said children are more vulnerable to toxic air because their brains and bodies are still developing and they breathe more rapidly than adults. They are also closer to the ground.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: ‘Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives. This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.’

The study looked at outdoor and in-door pollution with a focus on low and middle-income counties. It attributed 600,000 deaths in children under 15 years of age to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution in 2016.

Two more studies published before the WHO report showed the serious damage air pollution is causing. A study from George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health, found that globally up to 33 million emergency visits to hospital each year are triggered by air pollution.

A British Lung Foundation report with the Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants found that 2,000 health centres in Great Britain were in areas exceeding safe air pollution limits. So sick people were being brought into air-polluted areas for treatment.

Asthma UK head of policy and external affairs Joe Farrington-Douglas said: ‘Air pollution is a global health crisis. An estimated 3.3million people in the UK with asthma could be affected by air pollution, leaving them struggling to breathe and at risk of a having a life-threatening asthma attack. We are campaigning for a new Clean Air Act which will help clean up pollution hotspots and keep everyone, especially those with asthma, safe.’

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