Document Type



Fast Food; Plastic; Phthalates; DEHP; DINP; BPA; Environmental Chemical Exposure

Publication Date



Background: Certain phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) are industrial chemicals widely used in consumer products that can adversely impact human health. Diet is hypothesized to be a major source of exposure but little is known about the impact of specific food sources. This study aims to investigate the association between fast food consumption with human exposure to high-molecular weight phthalates (di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and diisononyl phthalate (DINP)) and BPA, in 8876 participants, aged 6 to 85 years old, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2003-2010.

Methodology: During the NHANES mobile exam, participants: 1) provided a spot urine sample which was measured for metabolites of DEHP, DINP, and BPA; and 2) completed a 24-hour dietary recall survey. We calculated kilocalorie intake of fast food from the dietary survey, and modeled fast food consumption in the prior 24-hours dichotomously and categorically as the percent of total daily calories (0%,

Results: The majority of study subjects had detectable levels of urinary phthalate and BPA metabolites in their urine. Those who had eaten fast food had significantly higher urinary metabolite levels of ΣDEHP [percent change (95%CI): 18.63% (10.38%, 27.50%)] and DINP [percent change (95%CI): 32.17% (20.04%, 45.52%)], but not BPA [percent change (95%CI): 2.36% (-2.59%, 7.56%)] compared to those who had not eaten fast food in adjusted models. For ΣDEHP and DINP, there was evidence of a positive dose-response effect (p for trend < 0.0001). Meat and grain consumption were associated with ΣDEHP and DINP when adjusting for all food groups.

Discussion: Findings suggest that fast food consumption may be an important exposure source for DEHP and DINP, but not BPA, among the general population. Consistent with other studies that report high phthalate residues in high fat foods, our findings suggest that meat-centric meals may in part be responsible for this association. Further research should investigate which components of the fast food industry (production and storage, cooking process, packaging, etc.) contribute to this association.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access



Presented at: GW Research Days 2015.



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