Research Request: Is Lead Poisoning Associated With Obesity?

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

As you all know, exposure to lead in infancy can lead to lower IQ, poor education outcomes, and higher rates of violent crime later in life. But another thought popped into my head this weekend. Among other things, lead does its work by weakening executive control in the brain, which is associated with things like impulse control and the ability to associate future effects from present actions. So aside from crime, what else might be affected by lead exposure?

How about obesity? This is just a guess on my part, but it strikes me that a child who loses impulse control and the ability to think about future consequences, might also be more likely to eat without thinking about the added weight down the road. This could easily lead to obesity later in life.

The only reason I’m mentioning this is that I have no way of testing it myself, so I thought I’d throw it out into the ether and see if anyone else has a bright idea for looking into this. Maybe NHANES data? I’m pretty sure a straight ecological study, of the kind that demonstrates the lead-crime link, wouldn’t do any good. But longitudinal data might. Anyone out there have any ideas?

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate