Online Program

Are air pollution exposures and food environment related to overweight/obesity?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ying-Ying Meng, Dr Ph, Center for Health Policy Research, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Susan H. Babey, PhD, Center for Health Policy Research, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Melissa Pickett, MPH, 10960 Wilshire Blvd. #1550, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Los Angeles, CA
Joelle Wolstein, MPP, Center for Health Policy Research, Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
The percentage of overweight and obese Americans has reached epidemic proportions. A growing body of evidence suggests environmental factors may play a role in increasing rates of overweight/obesity. Recent data suggest links between overweight/obesity and air pollution exposure, as well as living in an unhealthy food environment. This project examines whether increased exposure to criteria pollutants and poor retail food environment (RFE) result in increased odds of being overweight/obese.

Using Geographic Information System software and 2003 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data, adults' residential addresses were linked to: 1) government air monitors for O3, PM10 and PM2.5 to estimate individual 3-year average pollutant exposures and 2) respondents' RFE index, a ratio of unhealthy to healthy food vendors within a specified buffer. Logistic regression analyses evaluated associations between being overweight/obese and both pollutant exposure and RFEI, controlling for age, sex, race, and poverty level.

Increased O3, PM10, and PM2.5 were associated with increased odds of being overweight (10%, 12%, and 14%, respectively) and obese (13%, 29%, and 15%, respectively) when controlling for age, sex, race, and poverty level. After including RFE in the model, positive associations between pollutants and overweight/obesity remained; living in an unhealthy food environment (moderate (4-5.9) or high RFE index (≥6)) was also associated with 6-28% increases in odds of being overweight.

Being overweight/obese is potentially related to increased exposure to criteria pollutants and unhealthy food environments. The findings highlight the importance of intervening against modifiable and pervasive environmental factors possibly contributing to weight gain, such as air pollution and unhealthy food environment.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Assess whether air pollution exposures and unhealthy food environment contribute to overweight and obesity outcomes; Articulate the process of linking government air monitoring data to survey participants’ residential addresses; Evaluate study findings and discuss implications for interventions.

Keyword(s): Air Pollutants, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have participated as a member of the research team and as study coordinator for multiple federal- or state-funded studies focusing on chronic disease outcomes, such as diabetes and asthma, investigating how these outcomes may be associated with increases in air pollution exposure.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.