FoodFacts.com is constantly illustrating the hazards of processed foods for our communities. Unhealthy levels of sodium and sugar, trans fat, and dozens upon dozens of controversial ingredients and possible allergens plague our food supply. Food in boxes, simply stated, isn’t real food. Today we found new information underscoring the importance of avoiding processed foods.
Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are included in all kinds of processed food packaging. While they were once considered harmless, there is a growing body of research that links dietary exposure to phthalates to metabolic and hormonal abnormalities, especially in early development.
Coming out of NYU Langone Medical Center , in collaboration with the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, new research has been published that links exposure to certain types of phthalates and compromised heart health for children and teens. The study draws on data from a national survey of almost 3,000 children and teens and documents these issues for the first time.
Researchers examined six years of data from a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population administered by the National Centers for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Phthalates were measured in urine samples using standard analysis techniques. Controls for race, socioeconomic status, body mass index, caloric intake and activity levels were considered. It was discovered that for every three-fold increase in the level of breakdown products from phthalates, there was roughly a one-millimeter mercury increase in a child’s blood pressure. While that seems quite small, applying it over the population can increase the number of children with elevated blood pressure quite substantially.
Hypertension is most common in people over 50 years of age. It is, however, becoming increasingly prevalent among children, mainly due to the global obesity epidemic. National surveys have indicated that 15 percent of American adolescents now have pre-hypertension or hypertension. While obesity is considered the greatest culprit in the unfortunate trend, this new research suggests that environmental factors like exposure to phthalates may be contributing to the growing problem This exposure can be controlled through regulatory actions and behavioral interventions.
FoodFacts.com will continue to reinforce the importance of avoiding processed foods. This is another important reason to prepare meals from scratch using fresh ingredients that you’ve chosen carefully with the health and well being of your family in mind. We all deserve to know what’s in our foods … and unfortunately, if that food is coming out of any kind of package, you just can’t be sure.