HEALTH News

Traffic noise may be making you fat; daily commute may lead to burnout

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2015, 6:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2015, 6:10am

Traffic noise might be making you fat: Noise from road traffic, rail and aircraft is linked to a heightened risk of developing a midriff bulge, shows new research that appears online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine. The study involved 5,075 people living in five suburban and rural areas in Stockholm, Sweden. There was a 0.21cm increase in waist size for every additional five decibel increase in exposure, although this was only significant among women. Waist-hip ratio increased 0.16 for every five decibel increase in noise exposure to road traffic - an association that was stronger in men. Noise exposure may be an important physiological stressor and bump up the production of the hormone cortisol, high levels of which are thought to have a role in fat deposition around the middle of the body, the researchers suggest. Traffic noise may also affect metabolic as well as cardiovascular functions, through sleep disturbance, altering appetite control and energy expenditure.

You're driving yourself to burnout, literally: Commuting length, distance and means are stress factors that can lead to burnout, according to a new study from the University of Montreal's School of Industrial Relations. Researcher Annie Barreck compared rural and urban regions of Quebec in terms of their commuting patterns, including types of transport used, and linked these patterns to emotional burnout, cynicism and professional efficacy. The study involved 1,942 people, aged between 17 and 69, working at 63 organisations in Quebec. She found that the risk of burnout increases significantly when a commute lasts more than 20 minutes. Above 35 minutes, all employees are at increased risk of cynicism towards their job. Barreck believes this should lead employers to adopt flexible commuting arrangements. "Managing employee commuting flexibly would increase employee efficiency and, moreover, enable organisations to attract or retain workers," she says.

Soy supplements don't alleviate asthma: Despite previous findings suggesting a link between soy intake and decreased asthma severity, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows soy supplements do not improve lung function for patients with asthma. The study involved 386 adults and children aged 12 or older with poorly controlled asthma. All were taking medicine to treat their asthma, but none were consuming soy. They were randomly split into two halves: one took a supplement of soy isoflavone - plant-based compounds found in food such as tofu and edamame - twice daily for six months, and the other half took a placebo. The supplement did not improve lung function, symptoms or measures of inflammation in the subjects.