USC and partner institutions awarded $6 million children’s environmental health grant from NIH

Research to look at prenatal and early life environmental influences on lifetime health related to asthma and obesity

Staff Report

Media Coverage: Press Enterprise, Daily News, The Washington Times, Redding.com, Daily Breeze, Pasadena Star News

LOS ANGELES – September 21, 2016 – Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC have been awarded a 2 year $6 million grant, as the first phase of a large seven-year National Institutes of Health, Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) initiative involving more than 30 research entities. The USC based research team will investigate health issues related to asthma and obesity. Continue reading “USC and partner institutions awarded $6 million children’s environmental health grant from NIH”

Air Pollution Has Similar Adverse Effects as Obesity on Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Air Pollution Adversely Effects Insulin Sensitivity

PRESS: Reuters, Endocrine Today, Everyday Diabetes, Newsmax, Environment Today

It is a well-established fact that obese people are more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and be at increased risk for stroke. In a recent study published in Diabetes Care journal, USC researchers in the USC Keck School of Medicine found that fine particulate matter  that mostly comes from vehicles exhaust in Los Angeles has a similar significant effect as obesity on the risk of type 2 diabetes. “The most important clinical meaning of our results is that the impact of PM2.5 on Type 2 Diabetes related traits was comparable to the influence of obesity on these traits,” said the study’s lead author, postdoctoral research associate Zhanghua Chen.

With years of studying the role that air pollution plays in health outcomes, researchers at the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (SCEHSC) have equipped themselves to study how air pollution affects an individual’s risk for acquiring type 2 diabetes at some point in their lifetime.

In a study with Mexican American adults, who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, Dr. Frank D. Gilliland, director of the SCEHSC, Chen and colleagues in the Keck School of Medicine at USC looked at how exposures to specific air pollutants and heavy traffic near their homes during various time periods from several days to a year impacted the risk of type 2 diabetes among this high risk group of Mexican-Americans.

The research team found that participants exposed to higher short-term average PM2.5 concentrations were more insulin resistant, had lower HDL to LDL (good to bad cholesterol) ratios and higher fasting glucose and insulin. Higher annual average exposure to PM2.5 also adversely affect fasting glucose, insulin resistance and blood lipids.  Additionally, obese people are more susceptible to the negative effects of short-term PM2.5 on insulin sensitivity.

“The uniqueness of this study paired air pollution measures with detailed and more direct measurements of insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function using a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test,” said Chen. “The Mexican American population is known for their high risk for obesity and, but they were less studied for the relationship between air pollution and type 2 diabetes.”

“Our significant findings about the detrimental impact of air pollution exposures on increased risk of type 2 diabetes indicate that stricter control of air pollution is needed to early prevent type 2 diabetes. Results from this study can provide policy makers with the information needed to formulate policy and regulation to protect public health,” said Chen.

Zhanghua Chen, Muhammad T. Salam, Claudia Toledo-Corral, Richard M. Watanabe, Anny H. Xiang, Thomas A. Buchanan, Rima Habre, Theresa M. Bastain, Fred Lurmann, John P. Wilson, Enrique Trigo, and Frank D. Gilliland. Ambient Air Pollutants Have Adverse Effects on Insulin and Glucose Homeostasis in Mexican Americans, Diabetes Care published ahead of print February 11, 2016, doi:10.2337/dc15-1795

Funding. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants DK-061628, M01-RR-0043, and UL1-TR000130, American Diabetes Association Research Award Clinical Research grant 7-09-CT-09, the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grant 5P30ES007048), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant 5P01ES011627, and the Hastings Foundation.

USC Establishes Research Center to Untangle Causes of Childhood Obesity in Low-Income, Urban Minority Populations

Exposure to pollution and social stresses suspected to be among the key factors

USC has been awarded a federally funded research center to explore why childhood obesity affects some populations more than others.

The Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center will study pregnant women and their infants over time in low-income, urban minority communities in Los Angeles that have both high obesity rates and wide-ranging exposure to environmental pollutants.

Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, Center for Obesity Research Center, and Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute will collaborate on the initiative.

“One of the most striking concerns about the obesity epidemic is the ethnic disparity among women and children,” said Carrie Breton, assistant professor at Keck Medicine of USC and co-principal investigator of the center, which will try to determine how environmental factors influence childhood obesity. “Rates of childhood obesity, pregnancy-related obesity and their associated health consequences are disproportionately high in Hispanic women and children.”

For example, in Boyle Heights — home to one of the largest Hispanic/Mexican populations in the United States — 50 percent of teens are overweight or obese, compared to 34 percent in Los Angeles County and 29 percent statewide. Located at the confluence of Interstates 5 and 10, the 101 Freeway and State Route 60, Boyle Heights also faces some of the worst pollution in the county and has a disproportionately high poverty rate (33 percent).

“Childhood obesity is one of the critical issues of our time, threatening the health of an entire generation of children,” said Frank Gilliland, professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and co-principal investigator. “Over-nutrition and sedentary lifestyle clearly play roles, but environmental determinants of obesity are also likely to be important and modifiable causes.”

The MADRES Center will recruit 750 mother-infant pairs from low-income urban hospitals in Los Angeles over the course of three years to investigate the problem from two angles:
• Project 1 will explore how environmental factors relate to child weight at birth and at 12 months of age.
• Project 2 will examine the effects of pre- and postpartum environmental exposures as well as psychological stress and behavioral risk factors that affect the mother’s gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention.

Smartphone apps will allow the team to collect real-time information about stressors and lifestyle behaviors during the daily lives of pregnant and new mothers.

Two teams will split up the research — one will work directly with mothers and infants; another will measure and map pollution.

The community outreach team will develop workshops with local partners, send out new research results and create materials for the mothers and families in environmental health resource centers.

Funding for the MADRES Center comes from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, grant 1P50ES026086-01.

More information about the MADRES Center is available at: http://madrescenter.blogspot.com/.

Contact: Robert Perkins at (213) 740-9226 or perkinsr@usc.edu

South Coast AQMD Publishes Video Featuring Center Researchers

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SC-AQMD) has recently produced a fantastic YouTube video, “Do One Thing” The 9:45 minute video takes a look at the air quality in the LA basin, associated health effects, and what one person can do to make a difference. The video helps remind us of simple things we can do in our daily lives to make a difference in our environment and the air we breathe: things such as riding our bikes on short trips close to home, riding mass transit, and even walking to school with our kids one day a week. The video also highlights personal stories of how people’s health and that of loved ones has been affected by the pollution in the Southern California region. Watch and be inspired to make a difference and “Do One Thing” (or maybe more)! (Note: We are not biased even though this video features two of our researchers:  Ed Avol and Rob McConnell).

For related information on the health effects of traffic related pollution, click through to see this infographic.

Outreach Program Releases New Infographic

USC EH Living Near Busy Roads Infographic

The Community Outreach and Engagement team at the USC Environmental Health Centers has developed an infographic, the first in a series that we will be sharing with you over the next few months and years. This infographic has been developed especially for people who want to learn  more about how their health is affected if they live or go to school in an area with lots of traffic pollution, near a busy road or traffic corridor. The infographic provides direct links to research studies done by USC Environmental Health researchers as well as other important studies on this topic.

Click on the image above to go to the interactive infographic. If you have more questions and want to learn more about the content of the infographic, please email us (scehsc (at) usc . edu) or visit our Facebook page and post a comment.

 

NEWS RELEASE: Research links tobacco smoke and roadway air pollution with childhood obesity

LOS ANGELES — New research from Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) bolsters evidence that exposure to tobacco smoke and near-roadway air pollution contribute to the development of obesity.

The study, to be posted online Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 in Environmental Health Perspectives, (click here) shows increased weight gain during adolescence in children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke or near-roadway air pollution, compared to children with no exposure to either of these air pollutants. The study is one of the first to look at the combined effects on body mass index of exposure to both near-roadway air pollution and tobacco smoke. The effects were substantially greater in children exposed to both air pollutant mixtures than to either alone.

“Vehicle miles traveled, exposure to some components of the near-roadway air pollutant mixture, and near roadway residential development have increased across the United States over the last several decades corresponding to the epidemic of childhood obesity,” said Rob McConnell, M.D., professor of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author on the study. “The potential for near-roadway air pollution to be among several factors contributing to the epidemic of obesity merits further investigation.”


The research builds on previous studies showing that exposure to secondhand smoke and particulate air pollution cause heart and lung disease.

Childhood obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obese youth are more likely to suffer from health challenges, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone and joint problems, social stigmatization and self-esteem problems. Obesity for children is defined by the CDC as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.

The USC study examined exposure of more than 3,000 children to tobacco smoke during their mothers’ pregnancy and to secondhand smoke, as well as air pollution effects from busy roadways, and looked for associations with body mass index. The children were enrolled at age 10 in the Southern California Children’s Health Study, started in 1992 to study the long-term effects of air pollution on children. The children were followed yearly over an eight-year period through high school graduation at age 18. Most of the children were non-Hispanic white or Hispanic.

The researchers estimated near-roadway pollution exposure, taking into account traffic volume, how close the children lived to roadways and predominant wind direction. At study entry, a parent-completed questionnaire was used to determine lifetime tobacco smoke exposure.

“Further research is needed to determine if our findings can be replicated in other populations,” McConnell said, “and to assess both the potential contribution of combustion sources to the epidemic of obesity and the potential impact of interventions to reduce exposure.”

Funding for the research comes from the National Institutes of Health (grants P01ES022845, P30ES007048, P01ES009581, P01ES011627, P50 CA180905, R01ES016535, R01HD061968 and R03ES014046), the Environmental Protection Agency (grants RD83544101, R826708 and RD831861) and the Hastings Foundation.

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McConnell, R., Shen, E., Gilliland, F.D., Jerrett, M., Wolch, J., Chang, C., Lurmann, F., Berhane, K. (2014). A Longitudinal Cohort Study of Body Mass Index and Childhood Exposure to Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and Air Pollution: The Southern California Children’s Health Study. Environmental Health Perspectives. Published online Nov. 12, 2014.

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ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC
Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California’s medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school.

For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond

This news release was prepared by USC Health Sciences Public Relations & Marketing and the Division of Environmental Health.