Power Plant

Increasing Clarity on Air Pollution Causing Obesity

Air pollution has long been suspected of contributing to the rising rates of obesity seen around the world. A new study published in the FASEB Journal adds evidence about how particles in air pollution can activate inflammation in the lungs that “spills over systemically, leading to metabolic dysfunction and weight gain.”

Yongjie Wei and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled experiment with pregnant rats comparing the effects of filtered, clean air to the effects of Beijing’s polluted air on both the pregnant rats and their offspring. They found evidence of the polluted air causing systemic inflammation that resulted in metabolic disturbances and weight gain.

Of course, this mechanistic research shows how air pollution works to cause obesity in rats and provides only an idea of how it might work in humans. But it builds on prior observations that air pollution is linked to a significantly increased risk of obesity in humans. And it’s part of a growing body of evidence making the supposition that obesity is simply a dietary problem seem increasingly naive.

Click here for the study from Wei et al, here for more from Fusion, and here for more perspective on the link between air pollution and childhood obesity.

Power Plant, photograph © Dylan Passmore / flickr

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February 28, 2016

2 Responses to “Increasing Clarity on Air Pollution Causing Obesity”

  1. February 28, 2016 at 7:46 am, MaryJo said:

    I’ve often wondered about second-hand smoke and being raised in a family of smokers affecting a child’s pathology re: obesity. Interesting work.

  2. February 28, 2016 at 7:48 am, Ted said:

    And, as a matter of fact, second-hand smoke appears to be synergistic with air pollution. Thanks, MaryJo!