The link between childhood obesity and air pollution
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, an air pollutant released from burning of fossils or other organic substances, has been found to cause obesity. Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health conducted a clinical study at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Harlem Hospital involving 702 non-smoking African-American or Dominican 18-35 year-old pregnant women that lived in areas in Northern Manhattan or the South Bronx. Findings showed that high PAH-exposed women’s children were 1.79 times likely to be obese at age 5, and 2.26 times likely to be obese at age 7, compared to those with lower levels of exposure. Socioeconomic status, cigarette smoke and proximity to trafficked roads did not prove to cause obesity. According to Robin Whyatt, the paper’s senior author, the study presents evidence that chemicals in the environmental, called 'obesogens,' can contribute to obesity in human beings.