A pedestrian walks amid heavy smog in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 29, 2015. A blue alert for heavy air pollution was issued by Beijing municipal emergency response headquarters.
Xinhua News Agency—Getty Images
By Sarah Begley
February 22, 2016

Exposure to air pollution was shown to increase the risk of obesity and diabetes in rats, according to a new study.

Researchers from Duke University exposed lab rats either to Beijing air or filtered air for 19 days; at the end, the group that got the highly polluted Beijing air had higher bad cholesterol levels (50%), triglycerides (46%) and total cholesterol (97%), factors that can affect the risk of developing obesity and diabetes, United Press International reports. Male rats exposed to pollution ended the study 18% heavier than their filtered air counterparts, and female rats ended the study 10% heavier.

If the same metabolic dysfunction were confirmed to occur in humans, one of the study’s authors said in a press release, “these findings will support the urgent need to reduce air pollution, given the growing burden of obesity in today’s highly polluted world.”

[UPI]

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