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Obesity has become a global problem, and in the US, four in ten adults meet the criteria of being obese. Although there are several factors associated with obesity, a new study has established that air pollution could be a contributing factor to obesity, especially in some women. 

Study shows that women exposed to smog likely to gain weight 

University of Michigan scientists report that middle-aged women exposed to smog are more likely to develop high body mass index and weight gains, more body fat and large waist circumference. The study authors said that a group of middle-aged women exposed to air pollution gained more weight. 

First study author Xin Wang said that long-term exposure to pollution of women in their late 40s to early 50s increases their body composition and size. The findings are from a dataset of 1,654 black, Caucasian, Japanese, and Chinese women that took part in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. The researchers followed the participants with a baseline average of 50  from 2000 to 2008. 

Also, researchers determined yearly air pollution exposure by correlating residential addresses with hybrid air pollution estimates. The research group next examined every possible correlation between the degree of local air pollution and the body composition and size measurements for each subject.

Air pollution exposure linked to high body fat and low lean mass 

The researchers established that exposure to air pollution was linked to a higher proportion of fat, higher body fat, and low lean mass in the participants. For instance, body fat increased by 2.6 pounds, around 4.5%. 

The study’s authors were sure to investigate the effects of air pollution and exercise on body composition. Indeed, scientists found that engaging in regular exercises was a good method to reduce and possibly even eliminate exposure to pollution (depending on the regularity, length, and perceived effort of around 60 exercises). 

However, Wang cautions that because this study only involved middle-aged women, its findings cannot be applied to either men or women of different ages.