The shocking way food packaging is linked to weight gain, study finds – Eat This Not That
When trying to lose weight, it will always be important to watch the nutritional information on the packaging. But new research in the review Environmental science and technology suggests that one factor you might miss is the packaging itself.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) noted that two chemicals in plastic products, bisphenols and phthalateshave been shown in previous research to disrupt metabolism in a way that promotes obesity. But, they add in this research, these are only a small fraction of the compounds found in plastics.
Related: The best juice to drink every day, according to science
To figure out if others might also be playing a role, they screened 34 everyday products – including yogurt pots, kitchen sponges and drink bottles – with 629 unique chemical compounds, and found 11. which could also disrupt the metabolism.
“The take-home message is that any ordinary plastic product may contain a mixture of substances that could contribute to excess weight or lead to obesity,” Martin Wagner, PhD, associate professor in NTNU’s Department of Biology, recounts Eat this, not that!. “This is especially true as these chemicals do not always remain in the material, but can seep into food and drink, where they could then be consumed.”
The extent to which plastic packaging might contribute to weight gain is unknown, adds Wagner, which makes it harder to know whether you should stay away from such packaging altogether.
At the very least, Wagner said, it helps to limit plastic use when possible, especially with those two main culprits, bisphenols and phthalates. This is true for both takeout and groceries, according to another recent study, published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology.
In this research, fast food samples from six restaurant chains found that many packaging and containers contained phthalates, with the highest levels being in meat products like burritos and burgers.
Also, it’s not just the food that could be a problem. According to Centers for Disease Controlthese chemicals are used in hundreds of products, including personal care items like shampoos and soap.
While you can’t completely avoid these chemicals, being aware of them could be helpful in reducing at least a little, Wagner says. This could give your metabolism the break it needs and possibly even prevent weight gain along the way.
To learn more about plastics, see A major side effect of drinking from a plastic cup, experts say.