Multiple urban exposures
In a series of studies published in 2020, we show that living in a harmful urban environment is associated with obesity and higher blood pressure in pre-school and school-aged children. The novelty of these studies is that multiple exposures were evaluated simultaneously in large cohorts of children. One of the studies, for example, looked at over 100 environmental exposures during pregnancy and childhood, and the association with body mass index (BMI) in more than 1,300 children aged 6 to 11 years in six European countries. The results show that exposure to smoking (both maternal smoking during pregnancy and second-hand smoking during childhood), air pollution (PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, indoor and outdoor) as well as certain characteristics of the built environment were associated with a higher BMI. This was confirmed by another study that followed almost 80,000 children in Catalonia during their first five years of life. It showed that exposure to higher air pollution levels and greater population density during the early months of life was associated with an increase in children’s BMI.