Mosquitoes Attracted to Obese
Big is definitely beautiful in the eyes of a mosquito. Research shows that obese people or even those who are overweight may be more likely to attract mosquitoes and, therefore, be subjected to more mosquito bites than those who are not obese. This does not bode well for people in the waterlogged Midwest or other areas of the US hit by recent flooding, where mosquitoes are out in greater numbers than usual.
According to Jerry Butler, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Florida, one in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes. Although genetics and the odors people exude play large roles in attracting mosquitoes, recent findings suggest that being overweight may make you more attractive to mosquitos for several reasons. In a June 2007 WebMD article, entomologist John Edman, PhD, and spokesman for the Entomological Society of America, explained that mosquitoes target people who produce excess amounts of uric acid. According to Mayo Clinic hematologists, one of causes of high uric acid levels in the blood is obesity.
Furthermore, Edman explains that mosquitoes can smell their targets from more than 150 feet away, a skill that can be troublesome for people who emit large quantities of carbon dioxide.
“Even over long distances, carbon dioxide is attractive to mosquitoes,” says Joe Conlon, PhD, technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association.
Research shows that larger people give off more carbon dioxide than smaller people. So, when given a choice, mosquitos will choose an adult to bite over a child or an obese person over a nonobese person. Pregnant women are also at increased risk, as they produce a greater-than-normal amount of exhaled carbon dioxide.
In addition to being overweight, Mayo Clinic lists additional factors that may attract mosquitoes, including:
- Having type O blood
- Being a Man
Want to lose some weight this summer and fend off mosquitoes in the process?
Check out these simple summer weight-loss strategies.
Visit WebMD for more suggestions on how to avoid mosquito bites.