It is established that junk food from leading fast food joints isn’t the most nutritious. However, a novel study has now revealed that these foods also contain a toxic forever chemical that can cause severe harm to the human body.
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This is according to a study conducted by researchers at George Washington University who found the presence of phthalates — a compound that helps to make plastic pliable — in 80 percent of the collected samples.
The chemical has been linked with several health problems including being wildly carcinogenic, causing liver damage, infertility and even asthma.
Researchers chose the restaurants and menu items based on market share and what was more popular for consumption. Of all the food they ordered 81 percent of foods consisted of a phthalate called DnBP that is known to be linked to causing asthma.
Around 70 percent of junk food had the presence of phthalate DEHP that has been linked with reduced fertility and complications with reproductivity.
They even saw an alternate plasticiser substitute called DEHT to be present in 86 percent of foods, however, the health impacts of this substitute remain unknown as of now.
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They found that the presence of phthalates was higher in meat-based foods whereas it was lower in french fries and cheese.
According to researchers, the food items could have come in contact with phthalates and plasticizer alternatives either during processing, packaging or even while being served via plastic gloves that employees wear at the counter.
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Co-author for the study, Ami Zota, who is also a professor of environmental health at GWU said in a conversation with The Washington Post that people from low-income groups from disadvantaged neighbourhoods are disproportionately being exposed to phthalates as they have access to plenty of these fast food joints but limited access to healthier food alternatives.
Zota concluded by stating that additional research needs to be done on whether people living in such locations are at higher risk of exposure to these harmful chemicals.
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