Association found between phthalates and obesity in young children

A link has been found between exposure to phthalates and obesity in young children, which included increased BMI and waist circumference.

The research, conducted by the Children’s Environmental Health Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, found that the man-made chemicals can mimic hormones in the body.

The study of 387 children in New York City found that 97 per cent of the urine tests from the children tested positive for exposure to phthalates, that are typically found in hygiene products. The phthalates included monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and other low molecular-weight phthalates.

An association between the concentrations of these phthalates with BMI and waist circumference was found by the researchers. For example, BMI in overweight girls with the highest exposure to MEP was ten per cent higher than those with the lowest MEP exposure.

Statistics provided by the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry show that between 16 and 33 per cent of children and adolescents are obese in the US , and this research suggests that these problems may be caused by more than poor nutrition and physical inactivity.

The study’s lead author Susan Teitelbaum, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine commented:”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.”

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