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Do mosquitoes cause childhood obesity?

Health

Tuesday, July 30, 2013    

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A small study suggests mosquitoes contribute to the problem of childhood obesity in parts of the United States.

Researchers from Brandeis University in Massachusetts led an experimental study to investigate whether the amount of time children spent playing outside varied depending on whether the mosquito population was controlled or not.

They found that children spent more time outside in areas with effective abatement compared to those with lots of mosquitoes to conclude effective control of mosquitoes could play a role in cutting the rate of childhood obesity.

The scientists asked 38 children from Cliffwood Beach and Union Beach between 2009 and 2012 to log the time they spent outside, when treatment to kill mosquitoes was alternated between the two places to see if there was a correlation.

John Worobey, lead author of the paper published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association admitted the study was limited because of the small number of participants and children's self-reporting, but believes the results were clear.

Children living in areas where effective action was taken to cull the mosquito population spent more time exercising outside.

He said: 'Because obesity is difficult to treat, public health efforts need to be directed toward prevention, which could include mosquito abatement since physical activity protects against obesity.'

The study also found that 75 per cent of the local population said they would spend more time outside if it wasn't for mosquitoes and households spent $86 a year on their own mosquito controls, indicating that they take the problem seriously.

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