Traffic-related air pollution and noise as potential risk factors in the development of obesity and cardiometabolic disease – A collaboration with the LEAD Study


Cardiometabolic diseases are a global issue, with an estimated 425 million persons with diabetes worldwide in 2017. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has also risen worldwide in the past fifty years, with approximately 40% of Americans and 25% of Europeans classified as obese in 2016. Air and noise pollution are public health risks worldwide, and there remains a need for further studies assessing their influence on cardiometabolic health.

Study objective:

The aim of Düsseldorf-LEAD collaboration is to investigate long-term health effects of air pollution and chronic noise exposures on obesity and cardiometabolic disease risk in children and adults living in Vienna. The LEAD (Lung, hEart, sociAl, boDy) study was started in 2011 by a team of researchers in Austria interested in understanding lung development and aging-related human health effects across the lifespan. The group in Düsseldorf is responsible for conducting analyses within this cohort focused on how air pollution and chronic noise exposures may affect body composition, obesity, diabetes mellitus risk, and metabolic syndrome risk.

Specific objectives

  • To assign chronic traffic noise and air pollution exposures at participants’ residences, schools and work places, as well as to calculate weighted exposures.
  • To investigate the connections between long-term air pollution, noise exposures and measures of obesity, including body composition, waist circumference, and body mass index.
  • To investigate long-term exposure to traffic-related noise and air pollution as potential risk factors for incident diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome, including multipollutant models to assess independence.

Study design

Longitudinal cohort study

Study population

11,423 Participants in Vienna and lower Austria ages 6-80 years

Team at hhuSarah Lucht, Hicran Altug
CollaboratorsDr. Robab Breyer-Kohansal at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Lung Health, Vienna, Austria
FundingResearch Committee of the Medical Faculty of Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf (FoKo)

Project Publications

  • Altug H, Ogurtsova K, Schiffers C, Sunanta O, Breyer MK, Hartl S, Hoffmann B, Lucht S, Breyer Kohansel R. Associations between long-term exposure to air pollution, noise, and body composition in the Austrian LEAD cohort. Environmental Health Perspectives 2023. DOI: 10.1289/isee.2021.P-415.

Related Publications

  • Breyer-Kohansal R, Hartl S, Burghuber OC, Urban M, et al. (2019). The LEAD (Lung, Heart, Social, Body) Study: Objectives, Methodology, and External Validity of the Population-Based Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology, 29(8):315-324.
  • Breyer MK, Ofenheimer A, Altziebler J, Hartl S, et al. (2020). Marked differences in prediabetes- and diabetes-associated comorbidities between men and women—Epidemiological results from a general population-based cohort aged 6-80 years—The LEAD (Lung, hEart, sociAl, boDy) study. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 00:e13207.
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