Air pollution may contribute to the high childhood obesity rates in the United States, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Previous research had found that the pollutant, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), can negatively affect childhood IQs and is linked to depression, anxiety, and attention problems in small children. PAH is created by the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco and is a common urban pollutant.
The researchers wanted to study how PAH affects children whose mothers were exposed to the pollutant during pregnancy. They gave pregnant women backpacks with equipment to monitor their contact with the pollutant in their daily interactions in the areas in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan. They then followed their children to ages 5 and 7 and assessed their weight and body fat. At age 5, 21 percent of the children in the study were obese and by age 7, 25 percent of the children were obese. Children of mothers with high levels of PAH exposure during pregnancy were almost twice as likely to be obese at age 5, and more than twice as likely to be obese at age 7, in comparison with children of mothers with lower levels of exposure. Additionally, the children whose mothers had more exposure to pollutants had more body fat, with on average 2.4 pounds more fat mass than the other children. The association between higher PAH exposure during pregnancy and higher childhood obesity rates was significant, even after adjusting for a number of factors including age, sex, ethnicity, birth weight, and use of public assistance.
This study was one of the first to provide data supporting the idea that pollutants in the environment contribute to childhood obesity. Addressing childhood obesity is so important because studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 – 13 has an 80% chance of being obese as an adult. Many of our patients tell us they’ve struggled with obesity since childhood. We have a wide variety of weight loss options available whether you want to lose 15, 50, or 150 pounds. Give us a call at 877-691-3001 or register on our website for a free weight loss surgery seminar to learn more about how Whyweight.com can provide you with answers to your weight loss struggles.