Aug 19 2013
New research links chemicals commonly found in our environments called phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) to health problems in kids and adolescents.
Two studies, published Aug. 19 in Pediatrics, suggest the chemicals could be contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.
One study, led by Dr. Leo Trasande, an associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, involved 766 adolescents aged 12 to 19 who were enrolled in a long-running study of their nutritional and dietary habits between 2003 to 2008.
The researchers were trying to see if chemicals used in manufacturing of plastics called phthalates were contributing to insulin resistance in the teens.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body does not effectively use insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas that breaks down sugars and starches found in our foods into blood sugar, or glucose.
In healthy people, insulin breaks down blood glucose after a meal to keep their blood sugar in a normal range. In people who are insulin resistant, the glucose build in the blood and over time, and it could potentially contribute to health woes like prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes and other serious problems like heart disease.
The researchers point out phthalates are linked to adverse effects on the endocrine system and have been linked to insulin resistance in adults, but younger people have been less studied up until now.