As if anyone needed an excuse to quit the filthy habit of smoking, researchers have found that smoking around your toddler could have the same effects as smoking while pregnant. A study from the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte Justine Research Centre linked secondhand smoke to not only the expected lung problems, but also to child weight gain. The study showed that kids who had been exposed to secondhand smoke from ages 2 to 10 had waist sizes 3/5 of an inch to a whole inch larger than their peers with non-smoking parents.
The childhood obesity epidemic has many factors, from exercise to diet to genetics, but researchers have found that secondhand smoke is now an additional link to the issue. The study found that by age ten, children who have been around secondhand smoke consistently or even periodically are susceptible to obesity. In their findings, the exposed children’s waists were wider, but their Body Mass Index (BMI) was affected as well. The children tested held BMI scores .48 and .81 points higher than children of non-smoking parents, which is also a similar comparison to children whose parents smoked while in utero.
The researchers link exposure to secondhand smoke at an early age to endocrine imbalances, which could cause obesity, as well as having effects on neurodevelopmental functioning during important early years.
An estimated 40% of children worldwide live with secondhand smoke at home, and are affected two to three times more than adults due to their little lungs and ventilation needs.