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Dining Out Linked to Phthalates Exposure in U.S. Population

Teen high consumers of food outside the home had 55 percent higher Σandrogen-disruptor levels

serving food in the restaurant

THURSDAY, March 29, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Among the U.S. population, dining out is associated with exposure to phthalates, according to a study published online March 28 in Environment International.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Julia R. Varshavsky, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of California in Berkeley, and colleagues estimated cumulative phthalates exposure by calculating daily intake from metabolite concentrations in urinary spot samples for 10,253 participants. A biologically relevant metric of phthalates daily intake (Σandrogen-disruptor, µg/kg/day) was constructed by converting phthalates into anti-androgen equivalent terms prior to their summation.

Across the study population, the researchers identified a consistent positive association between dining out and Σandrogen-disruptor levels. Compared with adolescents who only consumed food at home, adolescent high consumers of foods outside the home had 55 percent higher Σandrogen-disruptor levels. There was variation by age group in the contribution of specific dining out sources to Σandrogen-disruptor levels; in children and adults, cafeteria food correlated with 15 and 64 percent higher Σandrogen-disruptor levels, respectively. Certain foods, such as sandwiches, correlated with increased Σandrogen-disruptor levels only if they were purchased away from home.

"Dining out may be an important source of biologically relevant cumulative phthalates exposure among the U.S. population," the authors write. "Future studies should evaluate modifiable production practices that remove phthalates from the food supply in addition to the efficacy of interventions that promote eating fresh foods prepared at home."

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