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Smog Tougher on the Obese
Date:10/15/2009

Study finds sharp hikes in blood pressure when overweight, air pollution combine

THURSDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Air pollution appears to hit the obese hardest, causing significant increases in blood pressure, a new study finds.

Air pollution has been linked to a variety of health problems including asthma, heart disease and diabetes, but this is the first time obesity has been taken into account, researchers say.

"For those who are obese, exposure to air pollution further exacerbated systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure," said lead researcher Srimathi Kannan, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

"When you are looking at environmental exposures and medical outcomes, you have to consider obesity," Kannan said.

The report is published in the Oct. 16 online edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

For the study, Kannan and colleagues collected data on air pollution and health as part of the Healthy Environments Partnership study. The study looked at these factors in 919 households in areas of Detroit that included rich and poor neighborhoods and a mix of racial and ethnic groups.

Among the 348 people who had their blood tested and their weight, blood pressure, height and waist circumference measured, over half were obese and 57 percent had waist circumferences that put them at risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Among all those tested, 68 percent had high blood pressure or were on the edge of developing high blood pressure and 36 percent had high cholesterol, the researchers found.

Average levels of particulate matter air pollution were 15 micrograms per cubic meter in three of the places measured, but in one area the levels were 20 percent higher.

People who lived in the area with the greatest amount of air pollution had higher pulse pr
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