In a recent study by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University, findings indicate that people who consume fast food could potentially be exposed to harmful chemicals known as phthalates.
According to the study “Recent Fast Food Consumption and Bisphenol A and Phthalates Exposure Among the US Population in NHANES, 2003-2010,” , the higher the quantity of fast food eaten, the higher the risk of exposure.
Phthalates are industrial chemicals used in the manufacture of food packaging materials, tubing for dairy products, and other items used in the production of fast food. From other studies conducted, it is thought that these chemicals seep from the packaging into the already highly processed food.
The researchers also identified meat and grain as the main contributor of exposure to phthalates. The grains include bread, cake, pizza, burritos, rice dishes and noodles. It was also found that those who eat fast food meat products have higher Bisphenol A (BPA) levels than those who do not eat fast food.
BPA is also found in plastic packaging and is believed to be linked to health and behavior problems, more so in children. However, this study found that there isn’t necessarily a direct link between fast food consumption and exposure to BPA.
The researchers advise that although conclusive studies could take years, it may be wise to avoid fast foods which are highly processed and contain higher amounts of fat, salt and calories. They advise to opt for the healthier whole foods as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.