Obesity is a major health crisis facing this country. A 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control found that nearly 40% of Americans are considered obese, and it affects over 93 million adults. Obesity is the cause of many significant health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and death. The annual medical cost of obesity is a staggering $147 billion a year. We're very familiar with many of the risk factors for obesity. Diet and lifestyle are a huge contributing factor. The environment, stress, genetics, and some medical conditions can also increase your risk of obesity. But a recent study is highlighting another, lesser-known risk factor that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic. Researchers have found that long-term exposure to road noise pollution can actually increase your risk of obesity.
The study was conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and published in the journal Environment International. Researchers studied 3796 adults who participated in the population-based Swiss SAPALDIA cohort study. Participants also completed two follow-up visits between 2001 and 2011. The research team used objective measures to compile the data, like weight, height, body mass index, and waist circumference and abdominal fat. That data was analyzed with estimates of road noise pollution exposure.
The data showed that the people who were exposed to the highest levels of road noise pollution had the highest risk of being obese. A 10 decibel (dB) increase in noise level correlated with a 17% increase in obesity risk. The risk increase seemed to only apply to road traffic noise. Researchers analyzed the data together with air and railway noise pollution, and found no significant increase in obesity risk.
Long-term exposure to noise pollution is actually a widespread and serious health issue. Research has shown that noise pollution can increase stress levels and affect the quality and quantity of sleep a person gets. It can affect hormone levels, and raise the blood pressure. Moreover, the sleep disturbance caused by long-term exposure to noise pollution can alter the appetite and cause deregulation of glucose metabolism. Noise pollution can negatively effect your health in myriad ways, and this new study highlights just another way this persistent problem is becoming a dangerous issue.
This data clearly shows a connection between long-term noise pollution and an increased risk for obesity. Hopefully, this research can help doctors and researchers better serve people who're at risk for obesity, and we sincerely hope that the medical community continues to look into this worrisome connection.