Road traffic noise and markers of adiposity in the Danish Nurse Cohort: A cross-sectional study

Environ Res. 2019 May;172:502-510. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.03.001. Epub 2019 Mar 1.


Background: Studies have suggested that traffic noise is associated with markers of obesity. We investigated the association of exposure to road traffic noise with body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference in the Danish Nurse Cohort.

Methods: We used data on 15,501 female nurses (aged >44 years) from the nationwide Danish Nurse Cohort who, in 1999, reported information on self-measured height, weight, and waist circumference, together with information on socioeconomic status, lifestyle, work and health. Road traffic noise at the most exposed façade of the residence was estimated using Nord2000 as the annual mean of a weighted 24-h average (Lden). We used multiple linear regression models to examine associations of road traffic noise levels in 1999 (1-year mean) with BMI and waist circumference, adjusting for potential confounders, and evaluated effect modification by degree of urbanization, air pollution levels, night shift work, job strain, sedative use, sleep aid use, and family history of obesity.

Results: We did not observe associations between road traffic noise (per 10 dB increase in the 1-year mean Lden) and BMI (kg/m2) (β: 0.00; 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.07, 0.07) or waist circumference (cm) (β: -0.09; 95% CI: -0.31, 0.31) in the fully adjusted model. We found significant effect modification of job strain and degree of urbanization on the associations between Lden and both BMI and waist circumference. Job strained nurses were associated with a 0.41 BMI-point increase, (95% CI: 0.06, 0.76) and a 1.00 cm increase in waist circumference (95% CI: 0.00, 2.00). Nurses living in urban areas had a statistically significant positive association of Lden with BMI (β: 0.26; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.42), whilst no association was found for nurses living in suburban and rural areas.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that road traffic noise exposure in nurses with particular susceptibilities, such as those with job strain, or living in urban areas, may lead to increased BMI, a marker of adiposity.

Keywords: Adiposity; Body mass index (BMI); Degree of urbanization; Job strain; Road traffic noise; Waist circumference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Noise, Transportation*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Waist Circumference*