Effects of Air Pollution Exposure on Glucose Metabolism in Los Angeles Minority Children

Pediatr Obes. 2018 Jan;13(1):54-62. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12188. Epub 2016 Dec 6.


Objectives: Growing evidence indicates that ambient (AAP: NO2 , PM2.5 and O3 ) and traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP) contribute to metabolic disease risk in adults; however, few studies have examined these relationships in children.

Methods: Metabolic profiling was performed in 429 overweight and obese African-American and Latino youth living in urban Los Angeles, California. This cross-sectional study estimated individual residential air pollution exposure and used linear regression to examine relationships between air pollution and metabolic outcomes.

Results: AAP and TRAP exposure were associated with adverse effects on glucose metabolism independent of body fat percent. PM2.5 was associated with 25.0% higher fasting insulin (p < 0.001), 8.3% lower insulin sensitivity (p < 0.001), 14.7% higher acute insulin response to glucose (p = 0.001) and 1.7% higher fasting glucose (p < 0.001). Similar associations were observed for increased NO2 exposure. TRAP from non-freeway roads was associated with 12.1% higher insulin (p < 0.001), 6.9% lower insulin sensitivity (p = 0.02), 10.8% higher acute insulin response to glucose (p = 0.003) and 0.7% higher fasting glucose (p = 0.047).

Conclusions: Elevated air pollution exposure was associated with a metabolic profile that is characteristic of increased risk for type 2 diabetes. These results indicate that increased prior year exposure to air pollution may adversely affect type 2 diabetes-related pathophysiology in overweight and obese minority children.

Keywords: Air pollution; glucose metabolism; health disparities; insulin sensitivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • African Americans
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Pediatric Obesity / metabolism*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Glucose