American Sociological Association

Integrating Sociological Perspectives into Obesogenic Research: Associations between Air Pollution Exposure and Obesity Prevalence across U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas

Obesogenic theories suggests that obesity risk can be influenced by exposure to toxic chemicals present in built and natural environments. Although physical scientists have been on the forefront of obesogenic research, social science perspectives have been absent in understanding the relationship between environmental pollution and obesity risk. To address such gaps, the author uses a sociological perspective to explore the way in which exposure to a specific class of obesogens, endocrine disruptors, influences adult obesity prevalence. Using air pollution emissions data from the National Air Toxics Assessment and health data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Screening Survey, the author assesses the association between emission exposure and obesity risk across metropolitan areas in the United States. Although the nonsignificant findings do not support obesogenic hypotheses, this research demonstrates the need for obesogenic investigation using large, nationally represented data sets that can be stratified to identify inequalities in pollution exposure and associated obesity risk.


Jessica L. Eckhardt