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Diabetes and obesity are increasing: chemical softeners complicit
The number of people suffering from obesity and diabetes has increased rapidly worldwide in the past ten years. A meta study commissioned by the environmental organization BUND found that not only unhealthy diets and lack of exercise increase the risk of diabetes and obesity, but also so-called plasticizers, which are contained in numerous plastic and food products.
According to an evaluation study by the BUND, especially pregnant women, children and adolescents are at risk of plasticizers and other chemically manufactured substances are suspected of promoting extreme overweight (obesity) and diabetes. Researchers evaluated the data from a total of 240 studies that had been created in recent years. "The exposure to chemicals such as bisphenol A in the womb led to a later weight gain and increased insulin resistance in experimental animals," explained the chemical expert of the environmental group Sarah Häuser. In this context, houses asked politicians to install better protection for sensitive groups of people, such as the chronically ill, expectant mothers and children. The extent of damage from plasticizers is determined by the time of contamination, according to environmentalists. "While stress can have no effect in adults, particularly in sensitive phases of development, such as pregnancy and early childhood, serious effects are possible, e.g. an impairment of reproductive ability, disorders of brain development or the immune system. “, write the scientists. The fatal point: some of these injuries only show up when adulthood has been reached. Then it is almost impossible to prove a context afterwards.
Massive increase in obesity and diabetes According to the last survey in 2010, around 33 million people in the European Union suffered from the chronic metabolic disease diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that the number of diabetes patients will increase to 37 million people in the next 20 years. Germany is one of the EU countries with the highest diabetes rate. Around six million diabetics suffer from the severe metabolic disease in the Federal Republic alone. The Federal Statistical Office assumes that a total of around 6.35 billion euros has to be spent annually for the treatment of diabetes patients. This corresponds to a share of 2.5 percent of the total expenditure of the health system.
Plasticizers increase the risk of diabetes "Against this background, the question must be asked whether all factors that have led to the worldwide increase in these health impairments have already been taken into account," the BUND experts argue. The current research results clearly show that artificially produced chemicals have led to an increase in obesity and diabetes, according to the researchers' overall assessment. Because while being overweight is considered a risk factor for diabetes, a lot of research indicates that chemical substances in everyday objects themselves lead to diabetes. "The epidemiological evidence for a connection between chemical exposure and diabetes is even stronger than that between chemical exposure and obesity," write the scientists in the study. Substances with a similar hormonal activity are suspected to be a risk of developing diabetes and obesity, according to the researchers. Every day, people come into contact with the artificially produced substances that are hidden in all kinds of products and foods. Bisphenol-A and so-called flame retardants are often found in plastic toys, receipts, PVC floors, food cans and also in baby bottles. Although the addition of bisphenol-A in baby plastic bottles was banned in 2011, the industry continues to use chemicals that could also be dangerous. Manufacturers primarily use plasticizers to make plastics such as PVC supple.
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment sees no acute cause for action For the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the current study data do not seem to be a cause for particular concern. Although the studies examined are also known there, they do not provide any specific clues to correct the maximum values. In a large US study, "a correlation between bisphenol-A and the occurrence of diabetes was found, but causality has not yet been established," said the spokeswoman for the state institute Suzan Fiack. In addition, the authors of the coursework themselves pointed out that causality cannot be confirmed without any problems. Nevertheless, in an evaluation of the study results from 2008, the BfR had requested that there was a further need for research on this topic. The toxicologist Prof. Dr. Gilbert Schönfelder at the Charité University Clinic in Berlin emphasized that the causes "previously were primarily wrong nutrition and lack of exercise". However, the new studies indicate "that exposure to hormonal pollutants could have an important and underestimated share in it".
Regulation of hormonal pollutants required The BUND summarizes that numerous laboratory and animal experiments as well as a number of epidemiological studies suggest that exposure to artificially produced chemicals plays an important role in the development of obesity and diabetes. This includes many substances with which people inevitably come into contact every day. Many of these substances are hormonal pollutants. Even in small doses, these have a detrimental effect on human health. Unborn babies in the womb are particularly at risk. But the risk of obesity and diabetes could also be increased in children, adolescents and adults. The BUND therefore calls on the black and yellow federal government to push ahead with regulation of hormonal pollutants across Germany and the EU in order to better protect people. (sb)
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Image: Bund, gde.de