Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Phthalates Might Cause Higher Obesity Rates For African-American Children

Obesity in USA has been increasingly cited as a major health issue in recent decades. Of all the countries in the world, USA has the highest rate of obesity. About 35% of Americans are considered obese. Children and teenagers are not immune from it. The obesity rate has more than tripled for the last 2 decades.

Study also found that the prevalence of obesity is ethnic related. African-Americans have a 51% higher obesity rate and Hispanics have a 21% higher obesity rate than whites in the USA. We could safely presume that different lifestyle, in term of diet and physical activity, might contribute to the different rates. But there’s another, less obvious factor in play: chemicals.

A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, by Dr. Leonardo Trasande and group, has linked this difference to phthalates. Specifically, the kind of phthalates called "low-molecular weight pthalates" commonly found in cosmetics, lotion, and creams. Trasande's group examined urinary phthalate concentrations and body mass of 2,884 ethnically diverse children between ages 6 and 19 who participated in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that African-American children has higher trace of phthalates in their urine, as compared to other ethnic groups like Asians, Whites or Hispanics. But what caused the higher phthalates concentration is still unknown.

A different study showed that an increasing use of personal care products is associated with higher levels of those low-molecular weight phthalates. But "there’s only so far we can take this line of thinking," says Trasande. "We can’t say for certain that an increase in exposure is linked to effect. There’s also the possibility that predispositions can trigger effects.

Regardless of the reason, phthalates exposure is a real issue. A better regulation on the use might need to be imposed.

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