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PFAs, chemicals commonly found in household and everyday items, found to interfere with metabolism and body weight


A Harvard University study determined that high blood levels of obesogens – better known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), a prevalent class of persistent chemicals – were linked with increased weight gains during latter parts of diets. According to its results, women were more vulnerable to PFA-connected obesity than men.

The research team came from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and they published their findings in the online journal PLOS Medicine.

  • The study considered data from 621 men and women who participated in the Prevention of Obesity Using Novel Dietary Strategies (POUNDS LOST) clinical trial. All subjects suffered from excess weight and obesity.
  • Trial participants adhered to cardio-healthy diets for two years. The Harvard researchers measured the PFAS blood level of participants at the start of the trial. They also recorded the weight lost and regained during the diet.
  • An average weight loss of 14.1 pounds (6.4 kg) was recorded among trial participants during the first six months of the trial. An average weight gain of 5.95 pounds (2.7 kg) was recorded during the next 18 months.
  • The study found that participants with the highest concentration levels of PFASs in their blood also regained the most weight. Women participants showed increased gain compared to men.
  • Researchers also found a correlation between higher blood levels of PFAS and lower resting metabolic rates.

The full study can be found here.

The study recommended that dieters – be they obese or not, and especially if they are women – who wished to keep their weight down for the long run must reduce their exposure to PFAs or avoid the obesogens altogether.

Journal Reference:

Liu G, Dhana K, Furtado JD, Rood J, Zong G, Liang L, Qi L, Bray GA, Dejonge L, Coull B, et al. PERFLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES AND CHANGES IN BODY WEIGHT AND RESTING METABOLIC RATE IN RESPONSE TO WEIGHT-LOSS DIETS: A PROSPECTIVE STUDY. PLOS Medicine. 13 February 2018;15(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002502.

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