After losing weight, many dieters soon regain much of what they took off. Now, research hints that chemicals lurking in clothing and furniture may play a role in this frustrating yo-yo cycle.
Widely used manmade chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may undermine dieters' attempts to maintain weight loss by slowing down the body's metabolism, the new study suggests.
The study can't prove cause-and-effect, but "found that individuals with higher blood levels of these chemicals had more difficulties of maintaining weight loss after dieting," said study lead author Dr. Qi Sun. "This pattern is primarily observed in women."
Sun is an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Perfluoroalkyl substances have been used for over 60 years in developed countries like the United States.
"These chemicals are both water- and oil-repellent," Sun said. They're found in many consumer products, including nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, stain-resistant carpeting and furniture fabrics, and food wrappers.
What's more, the chemicals are persistent and ubiquitous, said Sun. "They are detectable in blood in most U.S. residents," he said. "They are a fact of modern-day industrial life."
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