Noise makes you fat!

That stress can lead to obesity is already known from previous studies. The body's increased release of cortisol in stressful situations is considered the prime cause.

An airplane flies very close to a house

Noise increases the stress level

A new Swedish study, conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is now causing a stir. More than 5,000 people living near the Swedish capital were routinely tested for the effects of aircraft noise for eight to ten years. The results were set in relation to the development of the noise level emanating from the airport.

The result was clear: People who lived near the airport are more likely to get fat. With an increase in noise levels of every five decibels, the waist circumference of those affected increased by an average of 1.5 centimeters (1/2 inch). The result can be attributed to an increased release of stress hormones, particularly cortisol, due to noise.

Effect of cortisol

Cortisol on one hand triggers food cravings, and on the other hand it disrupts the insulin sensitivity of the cells and thus the uptake and combustion of insulin within the cells. This also explains why increased airport noise can be associated with the development of type 2 diabetes; that is, adult-onset diabetes. Subjects exposed to aircraft noise had a 3% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The likelihood of getting fatter is therefore greater when people live near an airport. This is likely to apply equally to people living in the city or on busy roads. Perhaps, with this in mind, the next time we see a speed limit that says "noise protection," it will be easier to hit the brakes. The residents would certainly be delighted!

The results of the study were published in the trade journal "Environmental Health Perspectives."

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