A new study is making the claim that childhood obesity can be blamed as much on exposure to environmental toxins as it is on shoveling down Paula Deen recipes and spending 10 hours a day playing video games.
Researchers from the Children’s Health Center at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York have found an association between exposure to phthalates (those nasty chemicals found in everything from flooring to personal care products) and increased body mass index and waist circumference in young 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, associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “This study also further emphasizes the importance of reducing exposure to these chemicals where possible.”
The study, which claims to be the first of its kind, examined the phthalate concentrations in the urine of 387 black and Hispanic children and New York City, and recorded body measurements, including BMI, height and waist circumference one year later. According to the research, 97% of the participants had produced urine that indicated exposure to phthalates. Furthermore, the study found that those children with the highest exposure to these chemicals had a higher BMI and waist circumference than children with the lowest exposure.
The study is far from perfect, and one should question it’s methodology, namely the sample size, the fact that only black and Hispanic children participated in the research and that it only included children from New York City. However, the research only claims an association between phthalates and childhood obesity, and those involved admit more evaluation is needed.
Dr. Teitelbaum of the Children’s Health Center stated, “While the data are significant, more research is needed to definitively determine whether phthalate exposure causes increases in body size.”
Click here if you’d like to read more about the study.
Childhood obesity is just the latest health issue blamed on exposure to phthalates. Other studies have claimed these chemicals have contributed to everything from disruption of thyroid hormone levels to behavioral problems in children born to mothers with high levels of exposure .