A new study finds that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are associated with increases in weight, but exercise and diet may reduce the obesogenic effects of these environmental contaminants.
What are PFAS substances?
PFASs are a group of synthetic chemicals that are detected in over 95% of the U.S. population. These substances have been used in non-stick cookware, oil- and water-resistant textiles, grease-proof food packaging, personal care products, floor polish, and firefighting foams and as industrial surfactants among other applications.
Exposure to PFASs occurs through direct and indirect sources including contaminated drinking water and food, personal care products, soil, dust, and air.
It’s thought that environmental chemicals acting as obesogens not by directly causing obesity but, rather, by modifying sensitivity to other risk factors for obesity.
About the study
The study, conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, sought to determine the extent to which PFASs are associated with increases in weight and body size and to evaluate whether a lifestyle intervention of exercise and diet modifies this association.
The study included 957 individuals who participated in the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study and were followed for approximately 15 years. Study participants who were randomized to a lifestyle intervention group received training in diet, physical activity, and behavior modification. Participants in the placebo group were given standard information about diet and exercise.
The investigators found that among adults at high risk for diabetes, higher blood levels of PFAS were associated with a long-term increase in body weight and hip girth among individuals in the placebo group, but not for those in the exercise and diet group. These results indicate that lifestyle changes of exercise and diet can reduce the obesogenic effects of environmental exposures.
Story Source: JAMA Network Open, August 31, 2018.