Wed, May 27, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Noise, ‘pot bellies’ linked

The Guardian

A pot belly might not simply be the product of too much food and not enough exercise, according to a Swedish study that found it could be related to traffic noise.

Research published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal has linked exposure to road, rail and aircraft noise to the risk of developing “midriff bulge,” one of the most harmful types of fat deposits in humans.

The results are based on 5,075 people living in five suburban and rural areas around Stockholm and their exposure to traffic noise since 1999. Researchers also used official figures on road and rail traffic noise levels and flow, as well as national data on aircraft noise from Stockholm Arlanda Airport.

Participants completed a detailed questionnaire and were asked about environmental noise pollution.

Researchers found that 62 percent of participants had been regularly exposed to road traffic noise of at least 45 decibels (dB), while one-in-20 had been exposed to similar levels of noise from trains; 1,108 had been exposed to aircraft noise of more than 45dB. In all, 54 percent had been exposed to one source of traffic noise; 15 percent to two sources; and 2 percent to all three.

Researchers found exposure to any of the three noise sources resulted in larger waists, with a 0.21cm increase in waist size for each additional 5dB increase in exposure to road noise — most notably among women. There was a change of 0.16 in waist-to-hip ratio for every 5dB increase in noise exposure to road traffic; an association that was stronger in men.

The more simultaneous sources of noise, the greater the risk of a larger waist, researchers found.

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