While many individuals who are overweight suffer from clinical conditions, scientists are now just beginning to fully appreciate the environmental factors of obesity and how these can dramatically impact our body mass index (BMI). This leads us to a handful of important questions. How does pollution impact body weight and is “environmental obesity” potentially leading to a new epidemic? What types of pollution may be responsible and are there any other variables to take into account? The professionals at Spatz3 will address these interesting queries immediately below in order to provide our readers with the big picture.
What are the Three Primary Causes of Obesity?
While the underlying environmental factors of obesity will vary between individuals, scientists generally believe that three scenarios can often determine whether or not obesity develops over time. These are:
- Level of physical activity.
- Sleeping patterns.
Any one of these situations can lead to other risk factors. For instance, poor sleeping habits will often result in feelings of lethargy, making it less likely that we will be sufficiently motivated to exercise. An unhealthy diet will cause us to gain weight, potentially resulting in other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Having said this, the environment around us can also have a notable influence.
Social and Environmental Factors Influencing Obesity
While research is still ongoing, a number of environmental contributions to the obesity epidemic are becoming clear. Let us first take a look at social variables that may be to blame.
Many will argue that the average individual is experiencing more psychological stress than ever before. This observation can manifest itself in numerous scenarios. Perhaps problems at work lead to an addition to unhealthy food as a coping mechanism. Excessive levels of stress will often negatively impact sleeping habits.
The sheer pressure of remaining slim and trim can likewise cause some to place too much pressure upon themselves to achieve an ideal weight. If results are not experienced, they may actually “rebound” and become more obese over time. In other words, emotions and psychology are often correlated with physiological results.
The environmental factors of obesity are just as important to mention. Studies suggest that certain pollutants can play a surprising role. One study performed by the University of Michigan followed a group of American women from 2000 to 2008. It found that exposure to certain airborne substances (particularly ozone and nitrogen dioxide) was linked to several long-term effects:
- A higher body mass index.
- Less lean muscle mass.
- A higher percentage of body fat.
Another research project carried out by the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2019 seemed to mirror these observations. This longitudinal project took place between 1989 and 2011. It followed the health of 13,226 adults living in China. Results found an average BMI of 11 per cent and an increase in obesity rates from 8 per cent to nearly 33 per cent within the same time period.
How Does Pollution Cause Obesity?
It is thought that environmental obesity is primarily caused by metabolic effects. For example, higher levels of particulate matter in the air will make it more difficult for the body to obtain the oxygen that it requires to perform various metabolic processes such as breaking down levels of cholesterol within the bloodstream. Furthermore, poor air quality has been linked to lower levels of physical activity, once again increasing the chances of being diagnosed with obesity. Please note that research is still ongoing.
Is it All Bad News?
At first glance, these figures present a stark and rather disheartening picture. This is even more relevant for those who may happen to live within areas associated with high levels of pollution. The good news is that there are plenty of ways in which we can offset potential environmental factors.
This is why nutritionists and health practitioners recommend exercising on a regular basis and adopting a healthy diet. Furthermore, helpful devices such as the Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon will cause us to consume fewer calories at any given time. This is obviously one of the most important factors in relation to weight loss and achieving a lower body mass index.