If it really is true that you are what you eat, it may be time for Americans to stop and think about how much fast food we consume—especially since a new study points to fast food as a key source of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals called phthalates.
Phthalates are widely used in processed food packaging and have been linked to an alarming number of health problems—from reproductive and developmental issues to obesity, diabetes, and hormone changes.
After reviewing the health and nutrition data for more than 8,800 study participants, researchers from George Washington University determined that the more fast food people ate, the more phthalates they had in their bodies. They looked at two specific phthalates (DEHP and DiNP) and found a 20 to 40 percent increase in phthalate metabolite levels in those who had eaten fast food in the past 24 hours.
The study also looked at levels of bisphenol A, another harmful chemical. Interestingly, results showed that people who ate fast food meat products had higher levels of BPA than non fast food eaters. Considering that nearly half of all Americans eat fast food at least once a week, Zota and her team urge consumers to limit their fast food consumption in order to reduce exposure to these and other potentially dangerous chemicals.