Aircraft noise exposure and body mass index among female participants in two Nurses’ Health Study prospective cohorts living around 90 airports in the United States

2024  Journal Article

Aircraft noise exposure and body mass index among female participants in two Nurses’ Health Study prospective cohorts living around 90 airports in the United States

Pub TLDR

This longitudinal study provides novel evidence linking aircraft noise exposure to obesity risk in U.S. women, with potential implications for environmental health policy and understanding mechanistic pathways between noise, metabolic health, and chronic disease. The conclusions highlight the importance of considering noise when assessing environmental determinants of obesity and cardiometabolic disease.

 

College of Health researcher(s)

OSU Profile

Highlights

  • In two nationwide prospective cohorts of U.S. female nurses living near 90 major airports, higher residential exposure to aircraft noise above 45 dB DNL was associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and greater increases in BMI since age 18. There was evidence of exposure-response trends, with the largest associations seen for noise levels ≥55 dB.
  • Associations between aircraft noise and BMI were stronger among participants living in the West, in arid climate areas, and who were former smokers.
  • This is the first U.S.-based study to find associations between aircraft noise and obesity indicators. Most prior studies were done in Europe and did not consistently find associations with BMI, though some found links with measures of central obesity like waist circumference.
  • The results suggest aircraft noise may influence risk of obesity, adding to evidence that it could be a risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases through stress-related pathways. This has public health implications given the high prevalence of both obesity and noise exposure.
  • The study leveraged detailed, long-term exposure assessment and accounted for many individual and neighborhood-level confounding factors in a large cohort. The findings indicate the need for further research on the effects of aircraft noise on obesity and related health outcomes in diverse populations.

Abstract

Objective

Aircraft noise exposure is linked to cardiovascular disease risk. One understudied candidate pathway is obesity. This study investigates the association between aircraft noise and obesity among female participants in two prospective Nurses’ Health Study (NHS and NHSII) cohorts.

Methods

Aircraft day-night average noise levels (DNL) were estimated at participant residential addresses from modeled 1 dB (dB) noise contours above 44 dB for 90 United States (U.S.) airports in 5-year intervals 1995–2010. Biennial surveys (1994–2017) provided information on body mass index (BMI; dichotomized, categorical) and other individual characteristics. Change in BMI from age 18 (BMI18; tertiles) was also calculated. Aircraft noise exposures were dichotomized (45, 55 dB), categorized (<45, 45–54, ≥55 dB) or continuous for exposure ≥45 dB. Multivariable multinomial logistic regression using generalized estimating equations were adjusted for individual characteristics and neighborhood socioeconomic status, greenness, population density, and environmental noise. Effect modification was assessed by U.S. Census region, climate boundary, airline hub type, hearing loss, and smoking status.

Results

At baseline, the 74,848 female participants averaged 50.1 years old, with 83.0 %, 14.8 %, and 2.2 % exposed to <45, 45–54, and ≥55 dB of aircraft noise, respectively. In fully adjusted models, exposure ≥55 dB was associated with 11 % higher odds (95 % confidence interval [95 %CI]: −1%, 24 %) of BMIs ≥30, and 15 % higher odds (95 %CI: 3 %, 29 %) of membership in the highest tertile of BMI18 (ΔBMI 6.7 to 71.6). Less-pronounced associations were observed for the 2nd tertile of BMI18 (ΔBMI 2.9 to 6.6) and BMI 25.0–29.9 as well as exposures ≥45 versus <45 dB. There was evidence of DNL-BMI trends (ptrends ≤ 0.02). Stronger associations were observed among participants living in the West, arid climate areas, and among former smokers.

Discussion

In two nationwide cohorts of female nurses, higher aircraft noise exposure was associated with higher BMI, adding evidence to an aircraft noise-obesity-disease pathway.

Bozigar, M., Laden, F., Hart, J.E., Redline, S., Huang, T., Whitsel, E.A., Nelson, E.J., Grady, S.T., Levy, J.I., Peters, J.L.(2024)Aircraft noise exposure and body mass index among female participants in two Nurses’ Health Study prospective cohorts living around 90 airports in the United StatesEnvironment International