Exposure to ultrafine particles and childhood obesity: A cross-sectional analysis of the Seven Northeast Cities (SNEC) Study in China

Qi Zhen Wu, Shu Li Xu, Ya Wen Tan, Zhengmin Qian, Michael G. Vaughn, Stephen Edward McMillin, Pengxin Dong, Shuang Jian Qin, Li Xia Liang, Li Zi Lin, Ru Qing Liu, Bo Yi Yang, Gongbo Chen, Wangjian Zhang, Li Wen Hu, Xiao Wen Zeng, Guang Hui Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Studies on the obesogenic effect of air pollution on children have been mixed and sparse. Moreover, due to insufficient air monitoring, few studies have investigated the role of more tiny but unregulated particles (ambient particles with a diameter of 0.1 μm or less, ultrafine particles). Objective: We sought to explore the associations between long-term exposure to ambient ultrafine particles (UFPs) and childhood obesity in Chinese children. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we randomly recruited 47,990 children, aged 6–18 years, from seven cities in Northeastern China between 2012 and 2013. Child age- and sex-specific z-scores for body mass index (BMI Z-score) and weight status were generated using the World Health Organization growth reference. Four-year average concentrations of UFPs and airborne particulates of diameter ≤ 1 μm (PM1), ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5), and ≤10 μm (PM10) were estimated at home, using neural network simulated WRF-Chem model and spatiotemporal model, respectively. Confounder-adjusted generalized linear mixed models examined the associations between air pollution and BMI Z-score and the prevalence of childhood obesity. Result: We found that UFPs exposure was associated with greater childhood BMI Z-score and a higher likelihood of obesity. Compared with the lowest quartile, higher quartiles of UFPs were associated with greater odds for obesity prevalence in children (i.e., the adjusted OR was 1.25; 95 % CI, 1.12–1.39; 1.43; 95 % CI, 1.27–1.61; and 1.41; 95 % CI, 1.25–1.58 for the second, third, and fourth quartile, respectively). Similar associations were observed for PM1, PM2.5, and PM10, and were greater in boys and children living close to roadways. Conclusions: Long-term UFPs exposure was associated with a greater likelihood of childhood obesity, and stronger associations on BMI Z-score were observed in boys and children living close to roadways. This study indicates that more attention should be paid to the health effects of UFPs, and routinely monitoring of UFPs should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157524
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov 10

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China ( 2018YFE0106900 , 2018YFC1004300 ), National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 82103823 , 82073502 , 81972992 , 81872582 , 81872583 , M-0420 ), Guangdong Provincial Natural Science Foundation Team Project ( 2018B030312005 ), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities ( 19ykjc01 ), Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province ( 2021A1515011754 , 2021A1515012212 , 2021B1515020015 , 2020A1515011131 , 2019A050510017 , 2018B05052007 , 2017A090905042 ), Medical Scientific Research Foundation of Guangdong Province ( 20201123193141971 ), The Health Science and Technology Project of Guangzhou ( 20201A010038 ), and Open fund of National Key Laboratory for regional air quality monitoring of environmental protection ( SRAQM01202003 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure to ultrafine particles and childhood obesity: A cross-sectional analysis of the Seven Northeast Cities (SNEC) Study in China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this