Lifestyle

Plastic link to obesity and diabetes

The chemicals in plastics appeared to have a causal effect on obesity, some on diabetes and some on both.
The chemicals in plastics appeared to have a causal effect on obesity, some on diabetes and some on both. © istockphoto.com/Eric Hood

MAN-MADE chemicals present in homes, schools, officers, cars and food are probably contributing to the sharp rise in obesity and diabetes in western societies, according to a review of scientific literature published today.

Until now lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise and poor diet were believed to be the primary causes of the increased incidence of both conditions, whose proliferation has strained global health budgets.

While these remain undisputed factors, the review of 240 scientific papers by two leading experts, Professor Miquel Porta of Spain and Professor Duk-Hee Lee of South Korea, suggests chemicals in plastics and other surfaces play an important and avoidable role.

Their study assessed the impact of chemicals including the now banned PCBs, the plastic-softeners phthalates, and the plastic-hardener Bisphenol A, or BPA, a common substance in food packaging and plastic bottles which The Independent has written widely about. All 240 studies they reviewed - whether in test-tubes, on animals or on humans - had been peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals.

The paper, the Review of the Science Linking Chemical Exposures to the Human Risk of Obesity and Diabetes, found some of the chemicals appeared to have a causal effect on obesity, some on diabetes and some on both.
Many are endocrine disruptors, which can change human hormones, including the stimulation of appetite and fat storage and regulation of sugar.

Six out of 10 adults in England are overweight or obese and diabetes in the UK has more than doubled since 1996 to 2.9 million people, which is about one in 20 people.

One of the study authors, Professor Miquel Porta, of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute, Barcelona, said: "The epidemics in obesity and diabetes are extremely worrying.

"The role of hormone disrupting chemicals in this must be addressed. The number of such chemicals that contaminate humans is considerable.

"We must encourage new policies that help minimise human exposure to all relevant hormone disruptors, especially women planning pregnancy, as it appears to be the foetus developing in utero that is at greatest risk".

Some of the chemicals studied - organo-chlorine pesticides, PCBs used to lubricate electrical equipment and to make plastics fireproof; and many Brominated Flame Retardants - have now been banned but others such as BPA and phthalates are still widely used in everyday products.

BPA is commonly found in the plastic lining inside tinned foods, on thermal till receipts and in consumer electronics such as mobile phones and televisions, while phthalates are present in vinyl flooring, shower curtains and children's toys.

CHEM Trust (Chemicals Health & Environment Monitoring Trust), the British pressure group which commissioned the research, urged the UK Government and the EU to press industry to find safer alternatives.

Elizabeth Salter Green, director of CHEM Trust, said: "If exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals is programming us to be fat, it is high time that public health policy takes into account cutting edge science. Obesity and diabetes are examples of the adverse health trends linked with endocrine disruption which need to be urgently addressed.

"We are talking about prevention, not cure here, and in this time of financial squeeze, anything that can help with prevention, reducing NHS spending, is a good idea."

Topics:  diabetes, health, obesity


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Legal poppies will make you die, not high

IN FLANDERS FIELDS. The poppy has become the endearing symbol of Remembrance Day. Photo Contributed

NSW to lift ban on poppy farming for medical use

Police investigating Ballina incident

Do you recognise this man? Police would like to speak with him.

Can you identify this man?

Latest deals and offers

Six songs Aussie rock icons love the most

MEMBERS of AC/DC, The Angels, Screaming Jets and Rose Tattoo are coming to Ballina for the Blood, Sweat and Beers Show

Legal poppies will make you die, not high

IN FLANDERS FIELDS. The poppy has become the endearing symbol of Remembrance Day. Photo Contributed

NSW to lift ban on poppy farming for medical use

Police investigating Ballina incident

Do you recognise this man? Police would like to speak with him.

Can you identify this man?

Rubbish collections back on agenda

BULKY RUBBISH: A Ballina Shire mayoral candidate has raised the issue of kerbside collections for the region.

Kerbside collections of bulky rubbish on the agenda

Battle over North Coast lake road continues

BATTLE FOR ROAD: Lennox Head's Stop the Lake Road Closure committee spokesperson Pip Carter (back, left) with NSW Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres who has described the decision to close the road as odd.

Battle to keep road open is not over

John Williamson winding up for another Gympie Muster

John Williamson is bringing some new songs and artists to this year's Muster.

John Williamson is back and ready to put on his best show ever

Tom Cruise private jets his gym kit around the world

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise charters private to take his gym kit around the world

Movie behind Depp and Heard split to be released

Soon you'll be able to see the movie that ended the marriage

Bindi's boyfriend helps release huge croc

Chandler (far right) helped the jump team.

Chandler Powell helps catch Duncan the croc

Mick Jagger to pay £2.5m to the woman carrying his baby

Mick Jagger is reportedly paying millions to pregnant ballerina

Navy man Keller ready to marry a perfect stranger

Former Navy engineer Keller is a participant in season three of Married At First Sight.

Tattoos are just the surface of Married At First Sight groom.

Six songs Aussie rock icons love the most

COMING SOON: Angry Anderson, frontman of Rose Tattoo.

Members of AC/DC, The Angels and Rose Tattoo are coming to Ballina

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m