Phthalate, environmental chemical is linked to higher rates of childhood obesity

June 26, 2012

Obese children show greater exposure than nonobese children to a phthalate, a chemical used to soften plastics in some children's toys and many household products, according to a new study, which found that the obesity risk increases according to the level of the chemical found in the bloodstream. The study will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

The chemical, di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), is a common type of phthalate, a group of that are suspected endocrine disruptors, or hormone-altering agents.

In the study, children with the highest DEHP levels had nearly five times the odds of being obese compared with children who had the lowest DEHP levels, study co-author Mi Jung Park, MD, PhD, said.

"Although this study cannot prove causality between and , it alerts the public to recognize the possible harm and make efforts to reduce this exposure, especially in children," said Park, a pediatric endocrinologist in Seoul, Korea, at Sanggye Paik Hospital and professor at Inje University College of Medicine.

Phthalates are found in some pacifiers, plastic food packages, medical equipment and building materials such as vinyl flooring, and even in nonplastic , including soap, shampoo and nail polish.

Prior research has shown that phthalates may change gene expression associated with fat metabolism, according to Dr. Park. Because past research suggested a link between concentrations of phthalate metabolites and increased waist size in adults, her group studied a possible connection with childhood obesity.

Dr.Park and colleagues measured of DEHP in 204 children: 105 obese and 99 healthy-weight youth ages 6 to 13 years. The researchers divided these DEHP measurements into four groups from the lowest detectable level (40.2 nanograms per milliliter, or ng/mL) to the highest (69.7 to 177.1 ng/mL).

They found that the obese children had a significantly higher average DEHP level than did the nonobese controls (107 versus 53.8 ng/mL, respectively). In particular, a high DEHP level correlated with body mass index and percentage of fat mass. This increased risk of obesity with elevation of DEHP levels was independent of factors such as physical activity and daily calorie intake, according to the authors.

"More research in people is needed to determine whether DEHP exposure contributes to childhood obesity," Dr.Park said.

Explore further: ENDO: serum phthalate levels higher in obese children

Related Stories

ENDO: serum phthalate levels higher in obese children

June 25, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Serum levels of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) are increased in obese versus nonobese children, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society, held from June 23 to 26 in Houston.

Plastics chemical linked to obesity in kids

June 25, 2012
(HealthDay) -- It's hard to imagine a pacifier or a rubber ducky making your child fat.

Exposure to chemical found in personal care products may contribute to childhood obesity

January 20, 2012
Researchers from the Children's Environmental Health Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York have found an association between exposure to the chemical group known as phthalates and obesity in young children ...

Large human study links phthalates, BPA and thyroid hormone levels

July 11, 2011
A link between chemicals called phthalates and thyroid hormone levels was confirmed by the University of Michigan in the first large-scale and nationally representative study of phthalates and BPA in relation to thyroid function ...

Phthalates in PVC floors taken up by the body in infants

May 23, 2012
A new study at Karlstad University in Sweden shows that phthalates from PVC flooring materials is taken up by our bodies. Phthalates are substances suspected to cause asthma and allergies, as well as other chronic diseases ...

Simpler lifestyle found to reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals

June 26, 2012
A lifestyle that features fresh foods and limited use of products likely to contain environmental chemicals has been shown to reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), such as BPA and phthalates, in a small ...

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

Three million Americans carry loaded handguns daily, study finds

October 19, 2017
An estimated 3 million adult American handgun owners carry a firearm loaded and on their person on a daily basis, and 9 million do so on a monthly basis, new research indicates. The vast majority cited protection as their ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.