Air pollution does more than trigger asthma, heart attacks, strokes and irregular heart rhythms it can also make you fat.
It’s been established that children who grow up breathing polluted air are likely to be overweight and develop diabetes and metabolic abnormalities that makes them overweight as adults, but a new study from China shows that breathing Beijing’s highly polluted air makes people fat and develop cardio-respiratory and metabolic problems.
Outdoor air pollution caused 6.2 lakh premature deaths in India in 2010, a six-fold jump from the 1 lakh deaths in 2000. This makes polluted outdoor air the fifth biggest killer in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution (mainly from smoking chullahs that use biomass fuels such as wood, coal, straw, manure, etc), tobacco use, and poor nutrition, reports the Global Burden of Disease 2013 , which tracks deaths and illnesses from all causes every 10 years.
The new study from Beijing in rats, which was published in The FASEB Journal , found that air pollutants made people at every state of life, including in the womb.
Not only were pregnant rats exposed to unfiltered Beijing air were significantly fatter at the end of pregnancy than those exposed to filtered air, their offspring exposed to unfiltered air in the womb and after birth were also significantly heavier than those exposed to filtered air.
In both rat mothers and their offspring, continuous exposure to unfiltered air caused airway inflammation in the lungs, increased tissue and systemic oxidative stress, dyslipidemia (abnormalities in cholesterol and other blood fats), and changes in fat distribution, leading to belly fat .