Air pollution linked to type 2 diabetes

Latino children living in regions with high levels of air pollution have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research recently published in the journal Diabetes.

For the study, researchers examined data on 314 overweight and obese Latino children from Los Angeles County who were enrolled in the Study of Latino Adolescents at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes between the ages of 8 and 15 years old. National Institutes of Health funded the 12-year study. None of the study participants had diabetes at the time of enrollment.

Each year the children fasted prior to a physical examination during which their glucose and insulin levels were monitored. By the time participants turned 18, they had nearly 27 percent higher blood insulin and about 36 percent more insulin than normal. These findings suggest their bodies were becoming less responsive to insulin.

The children lived in neighborhoods with excess nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. After adjusting for body fat and socioeconomic status, researchers determined the exposure to pollution had contributed to lower insulin sensitivity.

"Diabetes is occurring in epidemic proportion in the U.S. and the developed world," said Frank Gilliland, MD, senior author of the study and a professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "It has been the conventional wisdom that this increase in diabetes is the result of an uptick in obesity due to sedentary lifespans and calorie-dense diets. Our study shows air pollution also contributes to type 2 diabetes risk."

More articles on population health: 
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