Background

Although some studies have tried to determine the impact of long term air pollution exposure on obesity, they have mainly focused on body mass index (BMI) and the results are inconsistent. Therefore, we investigated the association of annual ambient air pollution exposure with various obesity traits, including computed tomography (CT)-measured abdominal fatness, in large Korean adult population

Methods

A total of 5,114 participants who underwent routine health check-ups at Seoul National University Hospital were included in the analysis. We calculated the annual average concentrations of ambient air pollutants, such as particulate matter ≤ 10μm in diameter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), using the individual's zip-code. Obesity-related indicators included the BMI, waist circumference (WC), percent body fat (PBF), total adipose tissue (TAT), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT).

Results

The mean age of the population was 53.5 and 70.9% of them were men. The mean annual concentrations of PM10 and NO2 were 49.4μg/m3 and 30.3ppb, respectively. In the full covariates model, adjusted for demographic and clinical variables, interquartile range increase in annual average concentration of PM10 and NO2 were not associated with any obesity-related phenotypes including BMI, WC, PBF, TAT, VAT, and SAT (all P > 0.05). Likewise, no significant association between air pollutants and obesity-related traits was observed in any subgroups, stratified by sex and age (all P > 0.05).

Conclusions

Annual exposure to ambient air pollution is not associated with any obesity-related traits in Korean adults.