Obesity from Pizza Boxes
The stuff they put into pizza boxes might cause obesity — and we’re not talking about the pizza. We’re talking about perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) that are put into the box itself to repel the grease. A new study published in Obesity finds that mothers with high PFAS exposure gave birth to children with higher BMI, waist circumference, and body fat at the age of eight. Between the ages of two and eight, these children experienced more rapid increases in their BMI.
A risk of obesity is not the only problem with PFASs. Earlier this year, an international group of environmental scientists issued a consensus dubbed the Madrid Statement to “call on the international community to cooperate in limiting the production and use of PFASs and in developing safer nonfluorinated alternatives.” PFASs are potent endocrine disruptors and have been implicated in liver toxicity, cardiovascular problems, neonatal toxicity, and tumors in multiple organ systems. They are widely used in consumer products such as clothing, non-stick cooking surfaces, and food packages. The real problem with them is that once they’re out there in the environment, they don’t go away for a long time, if ever.
The most notorious of these substances, known as C8, will be phased out of use by the end of this year. Thanks to DuPont, which leaked a bunch of C8 into the Ohio Valley at Parkersburg, West Virginia, researchers were able to study the effects of C8 exposure from 2008 to 2013. And the extensive harm they found helped lead to the agreement to phase it out.
But the industry that makes PFASs isn’t totally buying into the blanket assumption that all of these substances are harmful. They say that “all fluorinated chemicals are not the same.”
We agree with the recent position adopted by the Endocrine Society to urge better testing to prevent new endocrine disruptors from being introduced into the environment. Mistakes like C8 are not easily corrected.
Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.
November 27, 2015