New Report Shows Possible Link Between Neighborhood Noise and Obesity

May 27, 2015|4:19 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Krolinska Institute in Stockholm recently released the paper “Exposure to traffic noise and markers of obesity,” which shows a possible link between the levels of environmental noise an individual is continually exposed to and his or her waistline size. Between 2002 and 2006, the scientists gathered questionnaires from more than 5,000 individuals aged 43 to 66 who discussed their health, psychological stress, insomnia, and job strain. The research team also asked participants about their exposure to three main sources of environmental noise—street traffic, trains, and planes—and took waist and hip measurements.

Individuals who were exposed to all three noise sources concurrently had an almost 50 percent chance of abdominal obesity, while individuals who were exposed to only one noise source had a 25 percent chance of abdominal obesity. The researchers found that for women, every .08 inch increase in waist size was linked to a 5 decibel increase in their exposure to street noise. (For men, they found a .06 inch waist increase for every 5 decibel increase). The connection between noise exposure and waist size only seemed to hold for individuals under age 60.

Lead researcher Charlotta Eriksson cautioned that this was simply an observational study that cannot yet show a definite link between noise and abdominal size, and that future research may show if a real connection exists between noise and the body’s metabolism rate. However, Eriksson says, previous research has already shown that stress caused by traffic noise contributes to greater incidence of heart attack and high blood pressure, making noise pollution something for urban planners to explore as part of their potential public health considerations.

For more information, please see these articles from ScienceDaily and HealthDay.