Where you live can affect your weight. And no, we’re not talking about your proximity to fatty fast food chains or a delicious hoagie shop that you have been to every day this week. According to a recent study, people who live in noisy areas tend to weigh more than those who don’t.
Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet looked at 5,000 men and women who lived in Stockholm. What they found was that some common noises associated with city life—such as traffic, railway and aircraft noise—all significantly related to a larger waistline, and “a particularly high risk was seen for combined exposure to all three sources of traffic noise.” The study concluded, “Our results suggest that traffic noise exposure can increase the risk of central obesity. Combined exposure to different sources of traffic noise may convey a particularly high risk.”
So what’s going on here? Exactly how does noise lead to a beer gut (or maybe we should call it a “noise gut”)? “The main mechanism underlying this association is probably that traffic noise may increase the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol, which is known to stimulate the accumulation of visceral fat in the abdominal area," study author Andrei Pyko told the Daily News. The theory is that a noisy environment is a stressful environment that can also lead to poor sleep and lower energy. Pyko said simple solutions like sleeping in a room away from the road and keeping the windows closed could be enough to shed a few pounds.