Chemicals make children fat

Phthalates have already been cited as a concern for menopausal women because of their endocrine-disrupting properties.

Phthalates have already been cited as a concern for menopausal women because of their endocrine-disrupting properties.

by Mary Budinger —

Are toys, pacifiers and even scented shampoos driving the epidemic of childhood obesity? Researchers from the Children’s Environmental Health Center at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York have found an association between a class of chemical substances known as “phthalates” and obesity in young children.

The percentage of obese children aged six to 11 in the U.S. grew from seven percent in 1980 to more than 40 percent in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Phthalates are man-made chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system because they mimic the body’s natural hormones. They are commonly used in building materials such as plastic flooring and wall coverings, food processing materials and medical devices. They are also found in many personal-care products such as shampoos, nail polish, deodorants, fragrances, hair gels, mousses, hairsprays, and hand and body lotions. Children’s toys and some pacifiers are known to contain phthalates, which help soften the plastics used in the manufacturing.

Phthalates have already been cited as a concern for menopausal women because of their endocrine-disrupting properties.

This study was the first to examine the relationship between phthalate exposure and obesity in children. It was published in the journal Environmental Research. Urine tests revealed that greater than 97 percent of study participants had been exposed to phthalates typically found in personal-care products such as lotions and cosmetics; varnishes; and medication or nutritional supplement coatings.

The team found an association between concentrations of these phthalates with body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference among overweight children. The BMI in overweight girls with the highest exposure to phthalates was 10 percent higher than those with the lowest exposure.

Prior research had already shown that exposure to these everyday chemicals may impair childhood neurodevelopment, and that phthalate exposure among pregnant women can lead to a feminization of boy babies and infertility in men. Animal studies suggest that phthalate exposure can lead to breast cancer.

Source: GreenMedInfo.com.

 

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about integrative medicine. 602-494-1999.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 3, June/July 2013.

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