They found smoke exposure associated with nearly all measures of adiposity in the children, including bigger bellies and overall fat.
Researchers collected both parental reports of their children’s smoke exposure as well as blood levels of cotinine, the major metabolite of nicotine, which is often used as a definitive test of smoking or passive smoke exposure. They also assessed levels of physical activity, which can impact fatness, sleep and diabetes risk.
They found surprisingly that passive smoke exposure did not appear to worsen breathing problems, such as snoring and short periods of not breathing while the children slept.
Smoking causes lung cancer, which is often fatal, and is the world’s biggest cause of premature death from chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
On top of the 6 million people a year killed by their own smoking, the World Health Organization (WHO) says another 600,000 die a year as a result of exposure to other peoples’ smoke – so-called second-hand or passive smoking.
Of the more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer, the WHO says – and creating 100 percent smoke-free environments is the only way to protect people fully.
About 40 percent of all children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home, and almost a third of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke are in children.
The study found passive smoke had an impact on cognition that was independent of fat or socioeconomic status.
The findings were published in the journal Childhood Obesity.
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