Fantastic news for New Yorkers: Living on a noisy street might also make you fatter, say Swedish researchers. A team studied the effects of sound on metabolism in 5,000 people in Stockholm, and found a link between chubbiness and environmental noise. Living on a busy block, by train tracks, or near an airport added pounds, and the fattest people were those residing near a combination of the three.
Common sense tells us that incessant noise is super stressful, and that the consequences of stress can include interrupted sleep. But these authors hypothesize that noise pollution not only drives people to stress-eat, but that it also ups cortisol in the endocrine system, a hormone that stimulates fat growth in the abdomen area. The study’s takeaway is this alarming association: For every five decibels that traffic noise goes over 45, it makes people 0.21 centimeters fatter. For every five decibels louder a railway gets, that’s 0.46 more centimeters. And if airplane noise overhead grows by five decibels, that’s 0.99 centimeters. (For context, 10 decibels is literally a pin drop, 70 is freeway traffic, and 120 is an airplane taking off.)
The authors recommend sleeping on the “quiet side” of the house, but as the Daily News points out, New Yorkers, who’ve made 88,441 noise complaints since January, probably don’t have a choice.