Can air pollution make you fat?

A study on pregnant rats who inhaled standard Beijing polluted air has shown that both the pregnant animals and their offspring had displayed increased weight gain, while rats breathing filtered air did not.

The study has also shown that the animals breathing the polluted air suffered from increased inflammation, including fat tissue inflammation and high cholesterol/triglycerides. The researchers noted that lung inflammation cause by pollution can spill over in the whole body, leading to metabolic dysfunction and weight gain.


Georgios' comment

This study comments that "epidemiologic evidence suggests that air pollution is a risk factor for childhood obesity" and that early-life exposure to pollution increases susceptibility to diet-induced weight gain in adulthood and to insulin resistance and inflammation.

In the long run, fat tissue inflammation can affect metabolism and trigger weight gain, and this is the mechanistic cause the scientists provide for the fattening effects of pollution. All that is needed is some extra calories every day in order to gain weight over a few years, just due to pollution.

It seems that using face masks in polluted cities can also do good for your weight - not just protect your lungs. Let's hope that with the advent of electric cars and wide adoption of solar panels and wind turbines in the next few decades, fewer people will suffer the nasty side effects of pollution, including whole body inflammation, fat tissue inflammation and weight gain.


Source [In vivo- study]

Chronic exposure to air pollution particles increases the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome: findings from a natural experiment in Beijing



Georgios Tzenichristos is the director of London's London-based LipoTherapeia clinic, which specialises in natural fat/cellulite reduction and skin tightening. Georgios daily follows all research on fat, metabolism, connective tissue and phytochemicals and regularly writes about those topics. To check all our recent articles visit


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