Why Excess Traffic Noise Makes It Hard To Get Rid Of Belly Fat

It sounds ludicrous I know.  But a recent study published in the Journal Of Occupational & Environmental Medicine claims just that.

If you live near roads, railways or airports where there is a high volume of traffic then you could be at a greater risk of developing excess fat and your will find it hard to get rid of belly fat.

OK, do you agree it sounds a little far fetched?
Sounds pretty far fetched to me.  Everyone lives near a road don’t they?  Let’s look at this in a bit more detail then.  The cross-sectional study was completed in Sweden and calculated the noise exposure of 5,075 people aged between 43 and 66.

They completed detailed examination of lifestyle, health status, job stressors, psychological distress and more via questionnaire as well as information relating to environmental noise pollution from different traffic sources.

This was all followed up with comprehensive physical examination looking at blood pressure, belly fat measures and BMI (body mass index).

OK, so what were the results?
Well a large proportion (62%) had been exposed to traffic noise of greater than 45 decibels frequently, with smaller volumes also subjected to train and aircraft noise.

Now here is where it gets interesting.  The researchers found no link between traffic noise and overall obesity levels (measured via BMI).  BUT they did find an association between the type of noise pollution and the size of your mid section – particularly in women.

For every five decibels higher the noise exposure there was a corresponding 0.21cm increase in waist circumference.  To add to this – the greater number of sources of noise at once – the greater the risk of increased belly fat.

So how could this happen?
Still seems a bit of a stretch right?  Well the research team suggested that the high traffic noise pollution could be creating physiological stressors that elevates the production ofthe hormone cortisol.  An increase in cortisol production due to stress has previously been linked to an increase in belly fat and obesity.

A secondary hypothesis was that noise disturbance may effect normal sleep patterns which can also have a knock on to an individuals metabolism, eating habits and energy levels.

Sounds interesting all right.  I am not sure if I am buying traffic noise as the key to get rid of belly fat yet, but in the interests of transparency, if you fancy reading about it for yourself you can see the full research here.

I am off to the store to get a pair of ear plugs before I go to bed.