Beijing’s smog may not only muck up your lungs, but also bloat your waistline, and the problem is even more pronounced in children. That’s the alarming finding of a new study by Ohio State University, which examined how minuscule pollutant particles affect one’s metabolism.
The study involved tests of mice exposed to clean and polluted air, and determined that smog “triggers a cascade of reactions in the body” by aggravating the air sacs that typically permit oxygen to enter into the blood stream.
This prompts a “stress response” from the irritated lung lining, which kicks the nervous system into hyper alertness and leads to a release of hormones that dampen the control of blood sugar levels and appetite.
Energy levels plummet as a result, and metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity can easily ensue before long.
Those symptoms aren’t restricted to mice. The researchers poured over medical records and concluded that the risk of diabetes can spike by as much as 11 percent for every 10 micrograms of pollutants in a cubic meter of air. That should give Beijingers pause, considering the air quality reached more than 400 micrograms per cubic meter on Tuesday afternoon.
Such symptoms result from both polluted air and second-hand smoke, meaning many average Beijingers may be vulnerable both outdoors and at home, considering China’s still rampant smoking culture.
Children and pregnant mothers were deemed to be most vulnerable, with study saying that “children born in the most polluted areas were 2.3 times more likely to be considered obese, compared to those living in cleaner neighborhoods.”
The researchers were quick to point out that other factors may contribute to the obesity of city dwellers, such as easy access to fast food. But concerned parents should keep these findings in mind, and realize that the incentives to buy air purifiers are more abundant than ever.
Photo: Mr America (Flickr)