Chemical exposure sparks metabolic changes in overweight children

Overweight children who are exposed to high levels of perfluorinated chemicals have a greater risk for developing metabolic syndrome, according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Perfluorinated compounds are a class of chemicals that are found in things like microwave popcorn bags or Teflon products. Like other endocrine disruptors, these types of chemicals are increasingly being linked to metabolic problems, fertility issues, and negative reproductive health.

"Our results suggest that these chemicals, which linger in the environment for years, could represent an important public health hazard that merits further study," said study author Clara Amalie Gade Timmermann, MSc, of the University of Southern Denmark. "Overweight children who were exposed to higher levels of PFCs tended to have higher concentrations of insulin and triglycerides in their blood, and these metabolic changes could signal the beginnings of the metabolic syndrome."

PFC levels on the rise

The study, which was conducted by the Endocrine Society, examined how PFC exposure affected metabolic health in 499 third-graders. Testing body mass index, waist circumference, and blood samples for PFCs, the researchers found that there was no relationship between PFC exposure and metabolic markers in normal-weight children, but there was a clear association in kids who were overweight.

"Although the two types of PFCs we investigated are being phased out due to health concerns, the use of other types of PFCs is on the rise," Timmermann said. "There is an ongoing need to determine how the entire class of chemicals is affecting children's health."

Source: Endocrine Society

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