Mosquitoes May Be Linked to Childhood Obesity

Author: Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC

We can blame mosquitoes for a lot of things: itchy red welts, dangerous diseases, that annoying buzzing noise, putting a damper on outdoor barbecues, and the need to wear pungent repellents.

Mosquito Research Discoveries

Unfortunately, though, we can’t pin all our problems on mosquitoes. They don’t play a role in traffic jams, world hunger, earthquakes, or cancer. However, scientists recently discovered that there is one unexpected problem we can now add to the list of things we blame mosquitoes for childhood obesity.

You’re probably familiar with the White House “Let’s Move” initiative aimed to fight childhood obesity and help raise a healthier generation of kids. However, even with balanced and nutritious eating habits, what happens when mosquitoes curb outdoor activity among children?

A study from Rutgers University examined the link between mosquito prevalence and childhood obesity. In the last three decades, obesity rates have jumped to almost 30 percent, and it’s not just because of dietary problems. It’s also associated with a lack of physical activity. This may be a product of spending time playing video games, but it could also have to do with mosquitoes preventing kids from wanting to play outside.

So, researchers at Rutgers tested the hypothesis that “day-biting mosquitoes might indirectly contribute to child obesity by reducing the amount of summer outdoor play.”

The study examined the prevalence of Asian tiger mosquitoes and how it affected outdoor physical activity for kids in two suburban neighborhoods in Monmouth County, New Jersey. One county was treated with mosquito control measures, and the other was not.

The scientists looked at the effects on both adults and children. This is what they found:

  • Adults reported spending 7.3 hours outside in one week, instead of 10.2 hours they estimated they would have spent outside if mosquitoes weren’t around. This is a difference of 2.9 hours they spent inside instead.
  • Parents reported that their children aged 8-12 years old spent an estimated 63% less time outside playing than they would have if mosquitoes had not been a problem.
  • In areas where mosquito control was implemented, children spent more time playing outside.

After the study, the team of researchers worked with public health institutions to assess the most effective ways to control mosquitoes and to educate the communities about how to fight the bite in their yards.

One researcher said that eliminating standing water (in buckets, flower pot saucers, tires, etc.) is one of the most effective solutions.

These results indicate what we at DC Mosquito Squad have known for a long time…bugs and pests really can ruin our outdoor experiences, and we should take back our backyards! Contact DC Mosquito Squad today for information about our mosquito control services and other pest treatments.