Chemicals in US drinking water may be fueling OBESITY, study claims
People exposed to highly toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in their diets and drinking water are more likely to become obese, a study suggests.
Obesity is typically linked to diet and lifestyle choices, but a new Danish study found per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) may contribute to the epidemic.
PFAS have been standard in the production of common household products, from nonstick pans and food packaging to fire extinguisher foam. The chemicals also leach into the water supply through waste runoff.
Exposure to PFAS has been linked to a multitude of concerning health issues including: infertility, metabolic disorders, kidney disease and certain types of cancer.
The international team of researchers zeroed in on one chemical commonly found in contaminated drinking water, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), demonstrating the strongest ties to obesity.
PFAS is a common contaminant in many household items. It is easily leached into the groundwater system when disposed of and can contribute to obesity
The researchers, led by Dr Philippe Grandjean, an environmental scientist at the University of Rhode Island, reported that people who had the most PFOA in their blood were found to have gained about 11 pounds more than those with low levels in a one-year follow-up.
The study authors wrote: ‘Elevated plasma PFAS concentrations predicted increased weight gain after an initial weight loss, notwithstanding the diet group that the participants were assigned to.
‘The results suggest that PFOA and PFHxS [another type of PFAS] may cause weight gain among people with obesity in weight loss programs.’
The study authors analyzed over 380 blood plasma samples that were already a part of a randomized European Commission trial focused on obesity.
They recorded the presence of PFOA as well as perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS).
Participants for the study, which was published last week in the journal Obesity, came from eight European countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Spain and the UK.
Participants were asked to adhere to an 800 calorie per day diet so as to shed eight percent of their body weight.
They were then randomly placed in one of five diet groups, such as low protein and high glycemic index foods, for 26 weeks.
No matter the diet each participant was assigned to, they gained weight if they had elevated levels of PFAS in their blood.
Dr Grandjean said: ‘Our study adds new evidence that being overweight isn’t just about a lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits — PFAS are increasingly suspected to be a contributing factor.’
Thanks to their widespread use in manufacturing, most Americans are regularly exposed to PFAS. It is estimated that more than 200 million Americans are drinking PFAS-contaminated drinking water.
The chemicals enter drinking water when products containing them are used or spilled onto the ground or into lakes and rivers.
Once in groundwater, PFAS can travel long distances and contaminate drinking wells. PFAS in the air can also get into rivers and lakes, which are often used for drinking water.
Forever chemicals can be filtered out of drinking water using an activated carbon filter, easy enough to purchase in most retail stores and online marketplaces. But it is not a general fix to the problem.
To cut down on Americans’ exposure to the harmful chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed landmark changes to the maximum concentrations of PFAS allowed in drinking water just last month.
Under the new guidance, drinking water would not be able to contain more than four parts per trillion (ppt) PFOA or PFOS.
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