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23 January 2012
Phthalates implicated in obesity epidemic
by George Atkinson

The widely used chemicals known as phthalates appear to also play role in obesity, say researchers from the Mount Sinai Medical Center. The new work builds on previous research that linked the chemicals to lower testosterone levels, smaller penis size and poor semen quality.

Phthalates are hormone disrupting chemicals that mimic the body's natural hormones. They are found in plastic flooring and wall coverings, food processing materials, medical devices, and personal-care products such as shampoo. The new study, in the journal Environmental Research, is the first to examine the relationship between phthalate exposure and obesity in children.

In the study, the researchers measured phthalate concentrations in the urine of black and Hispanic children in New York City and recorded body measurements including BMI, height, and waist circumference one year later. The team found an association between concentrations of these phthalates with BMI and waist circumference among overweight children.

"Research has shown that exposure to these everyday chemicals may impair childhood neurodevelopment, but this is the first evidence demonstrating that they may contribute to childhood obesity," said the study's lead author Susan Teitelbaum. "This study also further emphasizes the importance of reducing exposure to these chemicals where possible.

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Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital/Mount Sinai School of Medicine




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