Road Traffic and Railway Noise Exposures and Adiposity in Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort

Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Mar;124(3):329-35. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1409052. Epub 2015 Aug 4.


Background: Traffic noise has been associated with cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Potential modes of action are through stress and sleep disturbance, which may lead to endocrine dysregulation and overweight.

Objectives: We aimed to investigate the relationship between residential traffic and railway noise and adiposity.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study of 57,053 middle-aged people, height, weight, waist circumference, and bioelectrical impedance were measured at enrollment (1993-1997). Body mass index (BMI), body fat mass index (BFMI), and lean body mass index (LBMI) were calculated. Residential exposure to road and railway traffic noise exposure was calculated using the Nordic prediction method. Associations between traffic noise and anthropometric measures at enrollment were analyzed using general linear models and logistic regression adjusted for demographic and lifestyle factors.

Results: Linear regression models adjusted for age, sex, and socioeconomic factors showed that 5-year mean road traffic noise exposure preceding enrollment was associated with a 0.35-cm wider waist circumference (95% CI: 0.21, 0.50) and a 0.18-point higher BMI (95% CI: 0.12, 0.23) per 10 dB. Small, significant increases were also found for BFMI and LBMI. All associations followed linear exposure-response relationships. Exposure to railway noise was not linearly associated with adiposity measures. However, exposure > 60 dB was associated with a 0.71-cm wider waist circumference (95% CI: 0.23, 1.19) and a 0.19-point higher BMI (95% CI: 0.0072, 0.37) compared with unexposed participants (0-20 dB).

Conclusions: The present study finds positive associations between residential exposure to road traffic and railway noise and adiposity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Diet
  • Electric Impedance
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise, Transportation / adverse effects*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Waist Circumference*