US officials are beginning to take a greater interest in the reported links between the exposure to environmental chemicals, like Bisphenol A, with the development of diabetes and obesity
The medical profession remains largely ‘oblivious’ to the reported links between exposure to chemicals in our daily lives and the development of diabetes and obesity, leading health specialists have told the Ecologist.
Obesity and diabetes rates in children and adults are increasing in many countries across the world. In 2008 almost a quarter of UK adults and 16 per cent of children aged 2-15 were classified as obese, while 2.8 million people are being treated for diabetes. Medical costs associated with these conditions are also rising, with the NHS estimated to be spending £9 billion per year treating diabetes and a further £4.1 billion treating obesity.
The increase in these medical conditions over the last decade has led many researchers to look for a connection with various external factors. Although changes in diet and physical activity are predominantly blamed for these increases, recent research has been exploring the possibility that environmental pollution could cause both diabetes and obesity.
The main suspects highlighted by researchers include persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as chlorinated pesticides, many of which are now banned but continue to be widely detected in the US population. Studies have also found evidence that other chemicals, such as Bisphenol A (BPA), associated with bothdiabetes and obesity are still widely produced and found at detectable levels in the environment. BPA in particular has been the focus of campaigns calling for it to be banned, although it continues to be used to line plastic bottles and food containers.
Health specialists are adamant there is a connection and say further research is required to explore the complicated relationship.