Part of the increasing burden of climate change can be attributed to the increase of the population with high susceptibility to environmental challenges, due to population ageing trend worldwide. This implies that the pool of population with an age-related decline of physiological reserve capacity, deteriorated immune system response, and reduced cognitive capacity is increasing. Therefore, in order to cope with the upcoming challenges of environmental deterioration and climate change, it is necessary to enhance the adaptive capacity of the society. This involves improving our understanding of the influence of environmental factors in the health of the population, and the susceptibility of population subgroups, such as the elderly. In this thesis I examined some of the most urgent health issues that potentially will affect the susceptibility of elderly population under the upcoming challenges of climate change. This includes the seasonal variation of lifestyle factors, cardiovascular risk factors, cognition, and antibiotic resistance and exposure to air pollution. The objectives of this thesis was first, to examine the seasonal variation and explored potential underlying mechanisms of seasonality of lifestyle factors, cardiovascular risk factors, and cognition in the Rotterdam Study; as well as the seasonality of antibiotic resistance using a systematic review of the literature. Second, to examine the exposure to air pollution according to mode of transport in two systematic reviews and to describe the estimation and preliminary findings of the exposure to air pollution among a population-based cohort of adult participants living in the Ommoord district in Rotterdam.
The burden of the seasonal variation of cardiovascular risk factors, insulin resistance, antimicrobial resistance, and cognition is expected to increase, as the susceptibility of the population to environmental deterioration and changes in daily temperature rises, as a consequence of population aging trend. This trend will increase the pool of population with declined physiological reserve capacity, deteriorated immune system response, and reduced cognitive capacity. Therefore, to improve the adaptive capacity of the society to climate change, it is urgently
needed to understand the mechanisms underlying the seasonal variation of these health outcomes. Additionally, it is suggested that promoting the shift from motorized to active commuting may help to increase the levels of physical activity of the population as well as to reduce the traffic-related pollution, such as air pollution and noise. Nevertheless, stakeholders need to account for the risks associated to commuting actively, such as higher inhalation of air pollution, in order to improve safety. Futures studies based on our estimations of air pollution exposure in a large population-based cohort of participants living in Rotterdam will help to elucidate the health effects of traffic-related air pollution exposure in an aging population

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O.H. Franco (Oscar) , J.D. Schoufour (Josje) , M. Guxens Junyent (Mònica)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Epidemiology

Cepeda, M. (2018, September 19). Environment and Seasons in an Aging Population: an Epidemiological Approach. Retrieved from