Apr 21, 2016

    Fast food comes with a side of chemicals: Study


    FAST food junkies may be getting more than just fries and burgers in their order - also a side of potentially harmful chemicals.

    A study on nearly 8,900 people revealed that those who eat lots of fast food tend to have a higher level of phthalates in their urine - up to 40 per cent more than those who rarely eat fast food.

    Phthalates are chemicals used by manufacturers to make plastics flexible. They are found in food packaging and food processing machines, and can be leached into food.

    The chemicals can disrupt hormone levels and lead to birth defects. They have also been linked to childhood behavioural problems and illnesses like asthma.

    The findings published by the George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health found a clear link between the amount of fast food consumed in the past 24 hours and the levels of two phthalates in the body.

    Fast foods like pizzas and burritos were identified as some of the significant sources of the chemicals.

    The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives last week.

    Researchers defined fast food as processed or packaged fare, stuff bought at a restaurant without waiter service, or any pizza place. All takeout and delivered items were also included.

    About one-third of the people studied reported eating fast food in the past 24 hours.

    The participants then provided urine samples which were tested for the presence of two types of phthalates - di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and diisononyl phthalate.

    The study's findings suggest consumers should eat less fast food to limit their exposure to phthalates, lead author Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health was quoted by Fox News as saying.

    This is well-aligned with other public health goals that suggest limiting fast-food consumption for other health reasons, including obesity, diabetes and heart health, she added.