How do chemicals in our environment affect our weight?
Certain chemicals that are used in many everyday items are involved in the development of obesity. Researchers found that these chemicals interfere with the body's ability to burn calories.
Scientists from internationally recognized Harvard University found that certain chemicals interfere with the body's ability to burn calories. As a result, using items with these chemicals contributes to the development of obesity. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "PLOS Medicine".
What are perfluoroalkyl substances?
So-called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are used, for example, for the production of non-stick floors in pots and pans. They also occur in dirt-repellent carpets and food packaging. Harvard University researchers studied the effects of these chemical compounds on the human body to determine a possible link with obesity.
Some harmful chemicals lead to cancer
After animal testing and the results of previous studies, many experts raised initial concerns about the use of perfluoroalkyl substances. These chemicals appear to be linked to cancer, high cholesterol, and immune problems. There are several examples of harmful chemicals in everyday items. Many care products are heavily contaminated with harmful chemicals. Industrial chemicals are also often included in the consumption of fast food.
Data from 621 subjects were evaluated
For the current study, data from 621 overweight and obese people who had been on a diet for six months were analyzed. The subjects were part of a clinical study that was carried out as early as the 2000s. The effectiveness of various types of diet was tested at the time.
Women are more affected
As expected by the medical community, the test subjects lost weight. In six months of the diet, the participants lost an average of 6.4 kg, the doctors say. Over a period of 18 months, however, the subjects gained about half of this value again. Study author Qi Sun found that the people who gained the most weight after the diet had the highest blood levels of PFAS chemicals. The effects were even more pronounced in women, explains the expert.
Impact of high concentrations of PFASs
Women with the highest PFAS levels gained about two kilograms more compared to participants with the lowest PFAS levels. Subjects with high concentrations of PFASs in their blood burned slower calories, measured by their resting metabolic rate, the scientists say.
PFASs cause faster weight gain
PFASs can lead to faster weight gain after a diet, explains Qi Sun. It is very difficult to avoid handling PFASs because they are found in so many everyday items. This is a major public health problem in today's society.
Is the amount of PFASs taken safe?
Figures compiled by the European Food Safety Authority suggest that exposure to certain types of PFASs in Europe is well below the tolerable daily dose. This means that the amount of chemicals consumed is considered safe for humans. For example, according to the food safety experts, the typical adult consumes less than 3.5 percent of the tolerable daily dose.
More research is needed
The results can serve as a good basis for further, more targeted investigations into a possible connection between exposure to PFASs and weight management. (as)