The impact of air pollution to obesity

Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2020 Sep;41(3):146-153.


Backgroud: Air pollution in ambient air could affect the increase of obesity in children.

Method: Review analyze papers about the effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), fine particles (particulate matter < 2.5 μm, PM2.5), and traffic air pollution (NO2, NOx, PM2.5).

Results: Prenatal exposure to concentrations 1.73-3.07 ng/m3 PAHs significantly increased obesity at age 5 and 7 years, up to 11 years. All studies indicate the significance of prenatal exposure with concentration > 0.3 ng/m3 of B[a]P (benzo[a]pyrene). Prenatal exposure to PM2.5 above concentrations 10.6-11.9 μg/m3 increased obesity in children up to the age of 9 years. Traffic air pollution was evaluated according to exposure to NO2 and PM2.5. Concentrations NO2 higher 30 μg/m3 affect adiponectin levels in cord blood, cholesterol metabolism, and therefore increase later the risk of overweight or obesity. PM2.5 9.2-11.6 μg/m3 during pregnancy affect adiponectin. These concentrations from the traffic air pollution can affect the metabolism in newborns later related to obesity.

Conclusion: All these studies indicate that contemporary concentrations of PAHs, PM2.5 and NO2 in ambient air, especially during prenatal period, affect overweight and obesity in children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Traffic-Related Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons