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
February 22, 2016 5:49 PM EST

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.”


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