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The Shocking Way Food Packaging Is Linked to Weight Gain, Study Finds
By Lekhak February 07, 2022
What's around your food may be just as important as what's in it.
When trying to reduce weight, it's usually a good idea to check the nutritional info on the packaging. However, according to recent research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, one factor you might be overlooking is the packaging itself.
Bisphenols and phthalates, two chemicals found in plastic products, have been shown in an earlier study to disrupt metabolism in a way that promotes obesity, according to researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). However, they point out in this study that those are only a minor portion of the compounds found in plastics.
They looked at 34 everyday objects with 629 unique chemical compounds, including yogurt containers, kitchen sponges, and beverage bottles, to see whether others could play a role, and found 11 that could mess with metabolism as well.
"The key message is that any ordinary plastic product could include a mix of substances that could contribute to excess weight or lead to obesity," says Martin Wagner, Ph.D. associate professor in NTNU's Department of Biology. "This is especially true because these chemicals don't always stay in the material; they can seep out into food and drink and be consumed."
According to Wagner, the extent to which plastic packaging leads to weight gain is unknown, making deciding whether you should avoid it altogether more complex.
At the very least, Wagner advises limiting plastic use whenever possible, particularly regarding the two main culprits, bisphenols and phthalates. According to another recent study published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, this is true for takeout or groceries.
In that study, phthalates were found in various wrappers and containers of fast food from six different restaurants, with the highest concentrations in meat-based items like burritos and hamburgers.
Furthermore, it's not just food that could be a problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these chemicals are included in hundreds of products, including personal care items like shampoo and soap.
Although you may not avoid certain chemicals, Wagner says that being aware of them can help you cut down on them. That could give your metabolism a break it needs and maybe even prevent some weight gain along the way.