A study done by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Spain states that children are at higher risk of overweight and obesity due to air pollution.
This study was published on January 31st, 2019 in the Environment International journal of Science Direct.
The study was done with 2,660 children who were of the age group of 7 and 10 years from 39 different schools in Barcelona.
The researchers have linked the exposure of children to air pollution to the developed risk of overweight and obesity. The children can be in contact with air pollution at home or outdoors, majorly at school. These are the places where children spend their most of the time.
The previous studies have also revealed the risk of developing obesity at a young age. A study that was published in Environment International analyzed the concern for the first time. It was performed under the project ‘Breath’ by ISGlobal.
The new study was conducted after examining the weight and height of children. The researchers then calculated their Body Mass Index (BMI) along with obesity and overweight status.
The sensors were also used in the outdoors and schoolyard to measure the stages of air pollution. Air pollution includes nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM2.5), elemental carbon (EC) and other ultrafine particles.
The exposure limits were also assessed to NO2, NOx, PM2.5, PM10, and PM coarse by the researchers. During the research, the mechanism was developed that linked the air pollution and overweight in children. The studies on animals also pinpoint that air pollution can encourage oxidative stress, systemic inflammation or insulin resistance in the body.
It was found in the study that the children were breathing in the air pollution beyond the permitted levels. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already recommended the levels of pollution levels both at school and at home.
The major thing that the new study found was that over 75% of children were exposed to PM2.5 levels. Also, more than 50% children were breathing NO2 levels which are considered to be unsafe.
One of the researcher at ISGlobal, Jeroen de Bont said, “We observed that children exposed to medium or high levels of air pollution at school – ultrafine particles, NO2, PM2.5, and EC – had a higher risk of obesity and overweight as compared to those exposed to lower levels.”
Martine Vrijheid, ISGlobal researcher and study coordinator explained, "The study has however some limitations, which means that the results are to be cautiously interpreted.”
The researchers of the study also interpret that coming in contact with higher levels of PM10 at home increases the risk of obesity or overweight during childhood.
It has been reportedby the World Health Organization (WHO) that air pollution is one of the major factors leading to diseases in India.
The exposure of pregnant women to PM2.5 in ambient air pollution and household air pollution was linked to low birth weight. In one of the researches done in India, preterm birth is stated to occur in houses where solid fuel is used instead of LPG or kerosene for cooking.
The study also reveals that a child born to women who used biomass fuels during pregnancy had small gestational age.
The basic sources of air pollution recognized as biomass fuels are wood, crop residues, charcoal, and cow dung. In a study in rural India, the risk of infant mortality is found to be 21% higher in households.
According to WHO report, the exposure to solid fuel combustion leads to a higher risk of contracting tuberculosis in children below 5 years of age. It also found the association of use of biomass fuels and the development of asthma in children in India.
The researchers say that this new research is a cross-sectional study. They didn’t have enough data to observe the unbiased nature of the association between pollution and health. They are looking forward to finding better conclusions and for that, longitudinal studies will be done on the participants.