How Eating Out Harms Us
Many of us enjoy the occasional meal in a restaurant. Some of us might even indulge in the occasional fast food meal (I won’t tell). However, new research might make you think twice about nipping out for a quick lunch.
In the spring of 2016, around 19 million people in the United States visited a restaurant, and a further 49 million visited a fast food restaurant. We’re a peckish bunch.
When we read about the health consequences of eating out, it tends to involve obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and the like.
But the latest study provides us with an entirely new reason to worry (as if we needed any more).
The paper — which is now published in the journal Environment International — introduces a new concern to the dinner plate. It comes in the shape of a difficult-to-pronounce chemical: phthalates.
What are phthalates?
Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly found in food packaging and other materials used in food processing. They are often added to plastics to increase their flexibility, durability, and transparency.
Basically, if you manufacture plastics, you love phthalates; they’re incredibly useful. Color- and odorless, they ensure that a plastic product continues to do its job for up to 50 years.
But, all that glitters is not gold; phthalates have the potential to cause upheaval in the human body.
In particular, phthalates are thought to disrupt hormones. While the exact effects of long-term exposure are unclear, they seem to negatively impact the reproductive system of animals and possibly humans.
Because phthalates have the potential to interfere with metabolic processes, some scientists have even wondered whether they might play a role in the current obesity epidemic.