The research showed increased weight gain during adolescence in children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke or near-roadway air pollution, compared to children with no exposure to either of these air pollutants.
The study is one of the first to look at the combined effects on body mass index of exposure to both near-roadway air pollution and tobacco smoke and found that the effects were substantially greater in children exposed to both air pollutant mixtures than to either alone.
Rob McConnell, M.D., professor of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author on the study said that vehicle miles traveled, exposure to some components of the near-roadway air pollutant mixture, and near roadway residential development has increased across the United States over the last several decades corresponding to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The potential for near-roadway air pollution is among several factors contributing to the epidemic of obesity merits further investigation.
The researchers added that further research is needed to determine if our findings can be replicated in other populations and to assess both the potential contribution of combustion sources to the epidemic of obesity and the potential impact of interventions to reduce exposure.
The study was published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.