Long-Term Exposure to Transportation Noise in Relation to Development of Obesity—a Cohort Study

Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Nov 20;125(11):117005. doi: 10.1289/EHP1910.


Background: Exposure to transportation noise is widespread and has been associated with obesity in some studies. However, the evidence from longitudinal studies is limited and little is known about effects of combined exposure to different noise sources.

Objectives: The aim of this longitudinal study was to estimate the association between exposure to noise from road traffic, railways, or aircraft and the development of obesity markers.

Methods: We assessed individual long-term exposure to road traffic, railway, and aircraft noise based on residential histories in a cohort of 5,184 men and women from Stockholm County. Noise levels were estimated at the most exposed façade of each dwelling. Waist circumference, weight, and height were measured at recruitment and after an average of 8.9 y of follow-up. Extensive information on potential confounders was available from repeated questionnaires and registers.

Results: Waist circumference increased 0.04 cm/y (95% CI: 0.02, 0.06) and 0.16 cm/y (95% CI: 0.14, 0.17) per 10 dB Lden in relation to road traffic and aircraft noise, respectively. No corresponding association was seen for railway noise. Weight gain was only related to aircraft noise exposure. A similar pattern occurred for incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of central obesity and overweight. The IRR of central obesity increased from 1.22 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.39) in those exposed to only one source of transportation noise to 2.26 (95% CI: 1.55, 3.29) among those exposed to all three sources.

Conclusion: Our results link transportation noise exposure to development of obesity and suggest that combined exposure from different sources may be particularly harmful. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1910.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aircraft
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Noise, Transportation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Sweden
  • Waist Circumference