Background: Air pollution and obesity are hypothesized to contribute to accelerated decline in lung function with age through their inflammatory properties.
Objective: We investigated whether the previously reported association between improved air quality and lung health in the population-based SAPALDIA cohort is modified by obesity.
Methods: We used adjusted mixed-model analyses to estimate the association of average body mass index (BMI) and changes in particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 µm (PM10; ΔPM10) with lung function decline over a 10-year follow-up period.
Results: Lung function data and complete information were available for 4,664 participants. Age-related declines in lung function among participants with high average BMI were more rapid for FVC (forced vital capacity), but slower for FEV1/FVC (forced expiratory volume in 1 sec/FVC) and FEF25-75 (forced expiratory flow at 25-75%) than declines among those with low or normal average BMI. Improved air quality was associated with attenuated reductions in FEV1/FVC, FEF25-75, and FEF25-75/FVC over time among low- and normal-BMI participants, but not overweight or obese participants. The attenuation was most pronounced for ΔFEF25-75/FVC (30% and 22% attenuation in association with a 10-μg/m3 decrease in PM10 among low- and normal-weight participants, respectively.)
Conclusion: Our results point to the importance of considering health effects of air pollution exposure and obesity in parallel. Further research must address the mechanisms underlying the observed interaction.