In an article published on April 13, 2016 news provider Science Daily reports on a new study showing a link between recent consumption of fast food and urinary phthalate levels in study participants. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives and conducted by researchers Ami R. Zota and colleagues from the George Washington University, U.S.. The researchers analyzed data on 8,877 participants from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2010). In particular, Zota and colleagues quantified 1) fast food intake (% of total energy intake), 2) fast food-derived fat intake, and 3) fast food intake by food group (e.g. dairy, eggs, grains, meat, and other) from 24-hour dietary recall data. The researchers then examined associations between dietary exposures and urinary metabolite concentrations of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP, CAS 28553-12-0), as well as urinary levels of bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7). Zota and colleagues determined a positive association between fast food intake and exposure to phthalates: Participants with the highest fast food consumption had 23.8% and 39.0% higher levels of DEHP and DiNP metabolites, respectively, as compared to non-consumers. Further, fast-food derived fat intake was positively correlated with levels of DEHP and DiNP metabolites; DEHP exposure was associated with grain intake; and DiNP exposure was associated with meat and grain intake. The researchers found no positive association between fast food intake and BPA exposure. However, high meat intake correlated with increased BPA levels.

“This is yet more evidence of our exposure to a cocktail of chemicals through our food and environment,” stated Michael Warhurst of non-profit organization CHEM Trust in a commentary article on the study. The industry group American Chemistry Council (ACC) commented that the NHANES data used in the study “demonstrate that exposure to phthalates from any source is extremely low, including any contribution from fast foods, and significantly lower than acceptable levels as set by regulatory agencies.”

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Science Daily (April 13, 2016). “Fast food may expose consumers to harmful chemicals called phthalates.

Lise Masson (April 13, 2016). “New US study finds fast food consumption associated with exposures to phthalates.CHEM Trust

Elizabeth Grossman (April 13, 2016). “If you eat fast food you’re getting a generous helping of toxic chemicals.Civil Eats

ACC (April 13, 2016). “Recent study on fast food consumption and phthalates has little relevance for consumers.

Emma Davies (April 14, 2016). “Fast food may increase phthalate exposure, U.S. study finds.Chemical Watch

Gayle S. Putrich (April 14, 2016). “Report finds link between phthalate exposure, fast food.Plastics News


Zota, A.R. et al. (2016). “Recent fast food consumption and bisphenol A and phthalates exposures among the U.S. population in NHANES, 2003–2010.Environmental Health Perspectives (published online April 13, 2016).