Washington : Exposure to a class of chemicals known as phthalates, found in personal care products, could be triggering obesity in young children and waist circumference.
Phthalates are man-made, endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can mimic the body's natural hormones. They are commonly used in plastic flooring and wall coverings, food processing materials, medical devices, and personal-care products.
A growing body of research suggests that phthalates, found in personal care products such as perfume, lotions, and cosmetics; varnishes and medication or nutritional supplement coatings, could play a role in rising childhood obesity rates.
This study by the Mount Sinai Medical Centre, New York, conducted the first ever study to probe the link between phthalate exposure and obesity in children.
Mount Sinai researchers measured phthalate concentrations in the urine of 387 black and Hispanic children in New York City, and recorded body measurements including BMI, a height to weight ratio, height, and waist circumference one year later.
The urine tests revealed that greater than 97 percent of study participants had been exposed to phthalates typically found in personal care products such as perfume, lotions, and cosmetics; varnishes; and medication or nutritional supplement coatings.
"Research has shown that exposure to these everyday chemicals may impair childhood neuro-development, but this is the first evidence demonstrating that they may contribute to childhood obesity," said the study's lead author Susan Teitelbaum, associate professor in preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.