Exposure to air pollution 'may increase risk of obesity'

22 February 2016

Exposure to high levels of obesity may increase the likelihood of obesity, according to a new study.

The Duke University research analysed pregnant lab rats and their offspring placed in two chambers: one exposed to polluted outdoor Beijing air, the other containing an air filter that removed most of the pollution.

After only 19 days, the lungs and livers of pregnant rats exposed to the polluted air were heavier and showed increased tissue inflammation, with higher cholesterol and insulin resistance levels, a precursor of type 2 diabetes.

Pollution-exposed animals were also shown to be significantly heavier at the end of their pregnancy, even though both groups were fed the same diet, with similar results shown in the offspring.

These negative effects were more pronounced after eight weeks than they were after three, suggesting that long-term exposure may be needed to produce the continuous inflammatory and metabolic changes that lead to increased body weight.

Senior author Junfeng Zhang, a professor of global and environmental health at Duke University, said: "If translated and verified in humans, these findings will support the urgent need to reduce air pollution, given the growing burden of obesity in today's highly polluted world."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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