Does air pollution make teens eat fattening foods?

A new USC study suggests that early exposure to traffic pollution may be linked to unhealthy diet in adolescence.
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Could air pollution be making us fat?

A new USC study suggests that exposure to traffic pollution during childhood makes adolescents 34 percent more likely to eat foods high in unhealthy trans fats — regardless of household income, parent education level or proximity to fast-food restaurants. The findings on air pollution and obesity in teens appear in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Strange as it may seem, we discovered kids in polluted communities ate more fast food than other kids,” said Zhanghua Chen, a postdoctoral research associate in the department of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the study’s first author.

The link is not as far-fetched as it might appear.

Read the full article on USC News »


The research was supported by Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center grant 5P30ES007048 funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences supported grants 5P01ES011627, K99ES027870, and K99ES027853; Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center grants funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (5P01ES022845-03); the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (RD83544101); the University of Southern California’s Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute Pilot Project; the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute Pilot Funding Program grant UL1TR001855; and the Hastings Foundation.

— Leigh Hopper