Air pollution increases risk of childhood obesity and diabetes

Health Care Comments Off

There is increasing evidence for the role of environment in pathogenesis in many diseases. Children below 5 years of age and adults older than 50 years are most at risk. A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks by the WHO has shown that 23% of global deaths and 26% of deaths among children under five are due to modifiable environmental factors. The harmful effects of air pollution on respiratory health are well-known to us and well-established. Air pollution has been linked to many non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancers and type 2 diabetes.

A new study has again underscored the dire need for a healthier environment. This study has suggested that exposure to ambient air pollution may contribute to development of type 2 diabetes through direct effects on insulin sensitivity and β-cell function. The study reported in the January 2017 issue of the journal Diabetes investigated whether exposure to elevated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM 2.5) had adverse effects on longitudinal measures of insulin sensitivity, β-cell function, and obesity in children at high risk for developing diabetes.

Although this was not a cause and effect study, an association between air pollution and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children was observed in the study.

• Higher NO2 and PM2.5 were associated with a faster decline as well as a lower insulin sensitivity at age 18 independent of adiposity.
• NO2 exposure negatively affected β-cell function evidenced by a faster decline in disposition index (DI) and a lower DI at age 18.
• Higher NO2 and PM2.5 exposures over follow-up were also associated with a higher BMI at age 18.

(Source: WHO, Diabetes 2017 Jan; db161416.