Busy roads may lead to bigger waistlines

Busy roads may lead to bigger waistlines

Motorists don't just pollute busy roads, they make people living near them put on weight too.

This is the bizarre conclusion of new Swedish research, which also found countryside dwellers can lose pounds more easily away from heavy traffic.

Only this March ministers were accused of failing over increased air pollution rates . Commons environment audit chair Joan Walley accused the then Coalition Government of rejecting her committee's plan for higher diesel vehicle taxes.

Now, Karolinksa Institute researchers are claiming that traffic noise causes stress, which triggers the human body's defence mechanisms to store extra fat.

This survival response was found in people living adjacent to noisy train stations and airports, as well as busy roads. Even an increase as little as five decibels above normal is sufficient to spark such a reaction, the study found.

City dwellers under the age of 60 years seem most susceptible to a burgeoning waistline because of noisy traffic-related stress. Usual ambient noise levels are estimated to be 45 decibels.

Conversely, residents who lived in tranquil rural areas were able to shed weight more easily. This was partially because of the reduced stress rates they encountered from such areas' traffic noise.

Research leader Andrei Pyko agrees that traffic noise has become not only a frequent, but increasingly commonplace problem. Dr. Pyko said this is primarily because of the growing shift towards people living in urban areas.

He said the weight-to-city-dwelling link related mainly to road traffic, then train noise followed by plane sounds.

The health consequences of such transport noise are many, Dr. Pyko added. These include disturbed sleep and irritability.

But city dwelling with loud traffic/transport can also result in alterations to the levels of residents' stress hormones as well as badly impacting on their cardiovascular systems.

The Government said in March that it had invested over £2 billion in measures backing pollutant emission-reducing greener, cleaner transport since 2010. It also said that in 2013 it announced there were no proposals in the pipeline to make substantial alterations to the vehicle excise tax structure.

Copyright Press Association 2015