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Times of India
17 May 2008
Geneva, Switzerland

Exposure in the womb to common chemicals used to make everything from plastic bottles to pizza box liners may program a person to become obese later in life, US researchers said.

Their studies of mice showed animals exposed to even tiny amounts of the chemicals during development were fatter when they grew older compared with mice not exposed to the compounds, they told the 2008 European Congress on Obesity.

“We are talking about an exposure at very low levels for a finite time during development”, said Jerry Heindel of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “The fact that it is such a sensitive period, it may be altering the tissue and making people more susceptible to obesity”, he said on Wednesday.

The World Health Organization estimates some 400 million people are obese, a problem that raises the risk of conditions like type–2 diabetes and heart disease. Previous studies have linked these chemicals – also found in water pipes – to cancer and reproductive problems. One of the chemicals is called Bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastics. Past research has suggested it leaches from plastic food and drink containers.

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