London: Chemicals in mobile phones, toys and sunglasses may be fuelling the obesity epidemic, researchers have warned.
The chemicals – many of are unavoidable – may also help trigger diabetes, a review of hundreds of individual pieces of research concluded.
Some are found in mobile phone cases and tin cans, others in shampoos and shower curtains, the Daily Mail reported.
Many of the chemicals of concern mimic or interfere with the effect of hormones, leading to them being described as ‘gender-bending’.
Some of these hormones control appetite, while others affect the storage of fat.
The warning comes from a report commissioned by campaign group CHEM Trust.
The report’s authors have called for urgent action to reduce exposure – particularly among pregnant women and those planning to start a family.
Spanish and South Korean researchers made the report after they sifted through more than 240 studies on obesity, pollution and type 2 or adult-onset diabetes.
They concluded that the evidence that chemicals can lead to weight gain in animals is ‘compelling’.
Proof in humans is more limited but this is partly because of the ethical and practical difficulties of testing the theory on humans.
They added that the link between environmental chemicals and diabetes in people was first made more than 15 years ago and that the volume and strength of evidence has been ‘particularly persuasive’ since 2006.
Some experts described the report as ‘alarming’, but others said the key to good health is in what we eat and drink.
“People trying to lose weight will be undermined by these chemicals which they cannot see, cannot taste and do not know how to avoid,” said Dr Tim Lobstein, of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.
“This alarming report highlights the need for government action,” he added.