• 02:17
  • 24.08.2017
Your home is making you fat

Your home is making you fat

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Everyone knows a poor diet and a lack of exercise can make you fat.
But according to a pioneering study from Duke University in the United States, it’s not only what’s in your fridge that’s impacting your weight — it’s also what’s on top of it.
The article, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests exposure to household dust increases your chance of being overweight.
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The researchers say it harbours endocrine-disrupting chemicals — which affect the hormones in your body — that can trigger your body to store fat.
These include flame retardants in sofas and carpets, as well as phthalates, substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility.
Studies on animals suggest exposure early in life can cause weight gain later in life, causing scientists to nickname the chemicals “obesogens”.
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The study focused on environmental contaminants that affect the body’s metabolism, and they said house dust was a particular risk to children.
Amounts of dust as low as three micrograms cause measurable effects, which is concerning given the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates American children consume about 50 milligrams each day.
“We were most surprised by how low the concentrations were that we saw as having an effect,” said Dr Christopher Kassotis, who led the research.
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Researchers collected dust from 11 different homes in North Carolina and observed how it interacts with the cells of mice in a laboratory.
Most of the dust samples caused the cells to develop into mature fat cells, which accumulated triglycerides — the kind of fat associated with obesity.
Nine of those fat cells actually divided, and grew into larger clusters.
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Since minuscule amounts can have a noticeable effect, it might be time to invest in some white gloves as well as a new feather duster.
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