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Obesity could be linked to chemicals used in plastics

By Martin Hickman

Man-made chemicals present in homes, schools, offices, 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, Prof Miquel Porta of Spain and Prof Duk-Hee Lee of South Korea, suggests chemicals in plastics play an important 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.

“The role of hormone disrupting chemicals must be addressed,” said the study’s authors.

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