Lose Weight by Heading to the Country
We’ve all wanted to escape the hustle and bustle life of the city every so often, but doing so more often could result in decreased levels of overweight and obesity along with better health indices. This is due to the potential link between air pollution and obesity risk. Usually measured with AQI or the Air Quality Index, major cities tend to have higher AQIs than rural or regional areas simply due to the higher amount of emissions. Poor air quality not only increases cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, it can also increase greatly your risk of developing other chronic conditions such as insulin resistance, increased fat tissue and inflammation.
One recent study by Zhang et al examined the link between air pollution and non-diet induced weight gain. Pregnant rats were either exposed to outdoor Beijing air or filtered air and observed over a period of 8 weeks. After 19 days:
- LDL Cholesterol was 50% higher in rats exposed to polluted air over unpolluted air.
- Triglycerides were 46% higher in rats exposed to polluted air.
- Total cholesterol was 96% higher in rats exposed to polluted air
In addition, after 8 weeks, both pregnant mice and offspring who were exposed to polluted air were found to be heavier than those exposed to clean air. In fact, females were 10% heavier and males were 18% heavier. These results were thought to be due to the increased inflammation that occurs with exposure to higher pollution levels.
Although the study was an animal one, if it does translate to a human model, then there’s definitely a greater call for reduced air pollution as a way of combating the prevalence of obesity. As a practical solution, it might be ideal to head away from the country every so often and this does provide a benefit of working out indoors, especially on days where there is a higher AQI. To help combat tissue inflammation as well, there are plenty of supplements handy such as fish oil, curcumin, ginger, co-enzyme Q10 and vitamin C just to name a few.
Wei Y, Zhang JJ, Li Z, Gow A, Chung KF, Hu M, Sun Z, Zeng L, Zhu T, Jia G, Li X, Duarte M, Tang X. ‘Chronic exposure to air pollution particles increases the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome: findings from a natural experiment in Beijing.’ FASEB J. 2016 Feb 18.