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Noise pollution may cause obesity

A new scientific study says that long-term exposure to road traffic noise may increase the risk of obesity, according to a study. Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain analysed the data from 3,796 adults.

“Our analysis shows that people exposed to the highest levels of traffic noise are at greater risk of being obese,” said Maria Foraster from ISGlobal. “For example, we observed that a 10 decibel (dB) increase in mean noise level was associated with a 17 per cent increase in obesity,” Foraster said.

It found no significant associations except in the case of long-term exposure to railway noise, which was associated with a higher risk of being overweight but not of obesity.

Being overweight was only associated with exposure to traffic-related noise in the cross-sectional analysis. The researchers found no association between noise exposure and body mass index measured continuously throughout the longitudinal analysis.

It alters hormone levels and increases blood pressure. Among other effects, sleep disturbance deregulates glucose metabolism and alters the appetite, they said.

“In the long term, these effects could give rise to chronic physiological alterations, which would explain the proven association between persistent exposure to traffic-related noise and cardiovascular disease or the more recently discovered associations with diabetes and obesity,” said Foraster.

“Our findings suggest that reducing traffic-related noise could also be a way of combating the obesity epidemic,” she said.


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