Airport traffic noise increases obesity risk say experts

Living beside airports or busy roads increases the risk of obesity, according to initial research into the affect of traffic noise on human behaviour.

Bomb hoax aircraft escorted in Manchester Airport by Typhoon fighter jet. Image by roger blake / CC BY 2.0

Air traffic noise can have a serious affect on residents' health / CC BY 2.0 Image by roger blake

Scientists believe that high levels of noise disturb people’s sleeping patterns that can have an indirect effect on their willingness or ability to exercise.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph reports that such residents often have lower energy reserves because of the interruption to their night’s sleep, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle during the day.

The report in the British Medical Journal claims that residents living under the flight paths of airplanes or near an airport were the ones who were most likely to suffer from obesity.

The lead author of the study at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, Andrei Pyko, emphasised that traffic noise had become an ever increasing environmental exposure due to urbanisation. He pointed out that after road traffic, railways and aircraft were the chief noise generating culprits.

New evidence has pointed to noise from traffic being the source for cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction, stroke and hypertension.

There is also growing support which says that this type of noise could affect the metabolic system by inducing central obesity.

The study, according to Dr Pyko, found that sleep disturbance could affect immune functions while also influencing appetite control areas and energy expenditure.

Related content