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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Air Pollution Not Tied to Weight Gain in Adult Women

Exposure to air pollution has no association with weight gain in African American adult women, despite prior research indicating such an association in mice and in children, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers shows.

In an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Laura White, associate professor of biostatistics at BUSPH, and colleagues from the Slone Epidemiology Center at BU probed the association between ambient air pollution exposure and weight gain over 16 years among a large group of African American women in the long-running Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS). Levels of fine particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen oxide were estimated at participants’ residential locations in 56 metro areas, and weight was tracked. The study adjusted for potential confounders, such as diet, neighborhood socioeconomic status, exercise, births, and smoking status.

The researchers found “no consistent pattern between weight change and pollutant exposure across BMI (body mass index) or SES (socioeconomic status) categories,” the study says. “The weight change associated with other exposures (such as different diet patterns and pregnancies) … was more substantial.”

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