The Bad News About City Living and Belly Fat

A new study says noise pollution is no good for your waistline.



If you live on a busy street with lots of traffic noise (hello, Broad Street dwellers), I’ve got some bad news for you: A new study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that all that traffic noise could be contributing to weight gain, specifically around your abdomen, CityLab reports.

Let me explain: For the study, done by Sweden’s Institute of Environmental Medicine, researchers conducted a multi-year survey of over 5,000 people. The survey asked each participant questions about their lifestyle, their physical and psychological health, sleep patterns, work habits, and their exposure to noise pollution — so, how often they were exposed to noise from road, rail (the El for instance), and air traffic. The participants also went through thorough medical exams.

In the end, what they found wasn’t pretty: After controlling for socioeconomic and lifestyles factors, researchers found that folks who were exposed to more noise pollution had a significantly higher risk of developing fat around their abdomen. Exposure to one type of noise source on the regular (so, say, rush-hour honking in front of your house every evening) increased participants chances of having more abdominal fat than those who aren’t exposed to noise pollution by 25 percent. And when people are exposed to more than one source of noise pollution, that risk goes up.

And the reason why is really interesting: Hearing a bunch of cars honking at each other is stressful. And when we’re stressed, our bodies produce more cortisol which is associated with the accumulation of abdominal fat. The takeaway? Close your windows and drown out noise the best you can during high-traffic times. Or move to a farm in the middle of nowhere, start your own farm-to-table bed and breakfast, and live the noise-pollution-free dream. Your choice.

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