Passive smoking may result in a variety of negative health consequences. Now, a new research suggests that it can also make kids obese and stupid.
Researchers from Augusta University wanted to find out the effects of passive smoking on the cognition, fats levels and sleep in obese and overweight children.
The study results show that exposed children had higher fat deposits in the belly area and in the entire body than those who are not exposed. Both groups of children were either overweight or obese.
Passive smoking was also connected to poorer cognition.
Previous studies show a link between being overweight and having decreased cognitive function. In the current study however, the researchers found a link between passive smoking and poor cognition that was independent of body fat.
"We are talking about a recipe for an unhealthy child who becomes an unhealthy adult who cannot reach their full potential," the authors say.
Interestingly, the scientists did not find a relationship between passive smoking, prediabetes, insulin resistance and increased fat deposits near abdominal internal organs. Fats around the organs are considered significant risk factors for diabetes, stroke and vascular and heart diseases.
With this, the researchers suggest that at this particularly young age, passive smoking may have more tremendous effects on the amount of body fat instead of metabolic function.
The scientists were also not able to find an association between passive smoking and breathing problems during sleep.
The study involved 222 children aged 7 to 11 years old. The researchers performed blood tests and surveys from 2003-2006. They analyzed the collated data from 2009-2010.
For the blood test, the researchers looked into the plasma cotinine levels of the subjects. Cotinine is a major metabolite of nicotine.
The researchers note that parents who expose their kids to smoking have poor health behavior, possibly endangering their child's health.
Previous studies that obtained information from parents only yielded inconclusive results about the relationship of obesity and passive smoking.
To ensure accurate information, the researchers asked both parents and children about passive smoking exposure. They were able to note a 25 percent discrepancy between blood test results and parent reports. The biggest gap was observed in parents who said they do not smoke, yet their kids' blood tests showed that they are exposed to smoke.
The study was published in the journal Childhood Obesity on Jan 26.