Waist Size Tied to Noise Pollution
Are people exposed to noise pollution from a nearby highway or airport more likely to have larger waistlines? It may sound like a stretch, but that's the conclusion of a Swedish study published in the journal _Occupational and Environmental Medicine. _
The researchers looked at how much environmental noise pollution from road traffic, trains, and planes had been experienced by 5,075 people living in five suburban and rural areas around Stockholm. During the study, the participants, who ranged from 43 to 66 in age, answered questions on lifestyle, state of health, psychological distress, insomnia and strain in their jobs. They also underwent a medical examination, which included measures of central body fat using waist circumference, along with hip size.
While the study did not find a relationship between traffic noise and body mass index (BMI), it did find an association between noise and waist size. For instance, in women especially, there was an increase in waist size of 0.21 cm (0.08 in) for every five decibel increase in noise exposure above 45 decibels. In particular, the researchers found aircraft noise to have the strongest link with larger waist size.
The study authors suggested that high levels of noise pollution could result in increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which is thought to play a role in depositing fat around the middle of the body.