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Obese and overweight people should be vigilant about air quality

health-and-fitness Updated: Feb 07, 2014 19:02 IST

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People who are overweight and obese may need to add air quality reports to their daily weather checks, as a new study has found that they may be more vulnerable to breathing in air contaminants that can trigger asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Published in the international journal Risk Analysis, the study out of the University of Montreal found that obese and overweight people take in between seven to 50% more air than their slimmer counterparts.

Obese individuals, for instance, had the highest average air inhalation, breathing in 25 cubic meters of air a day -- about 8 cubic meters more than the average adult of normal weight.

That also translates to breathing in more air pollutants like ammonia, sulphur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide -- all respiratory irritants.

Researchers also looked at the rate of air inhalation among elite athletes. A cross-country skier, for instance, can take in up to 41 square meters a day, while a cyclist in the Tour de France will inhale 46 square meters of air a day.

But where elite athletes differ from regular obese people, is that sports-related respiration is peak inhalation and not maintained for sustained periods of time.

Those who are overweight and suffer from type 2 diabetes, meanwhile, are breathing about 25 square meters of air consistently every day.

It’s even worse for overweight kids, who have a higher metabolism: to maintain their basic functions and perform daily activities, children breathe in more air per kilogram of weight than obese adults, the study notes. The same is true of men versus women.

In another study, prolonged exposure to air pollution has also been associated with hardening of the arteries and heart attacks.