Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Environmental Health Perspectives




Background: Phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) are widely used industrial chemicals that may adversely impact human health. Human exposure is ubiquitous and can occur through diet, including consumption of processed or packaged food.

Objective: To examine associations between recent fast food intake and BPA and urinary metabolites of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (ΣDEHPm) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNPm) among the US population.

Methods: We combined data on 8877 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2010). Using 24-hour dietary recall data, we quantified: 1) fast food intake (percent of total energy intake (TEI) from fast food); 2) fast food-derived fat intake (percent of TEI from fat in fast food); and 3) fast food intake by food group (dairy, eggs, grains, meat, and other). We examined associations between dietary exposures and urinary chemical concentrations using multivariate linear regression.

Results: We observed evidence of a positive, dose–response relationship between fast food intake and exposure to phthalates (p-trend < 0.0001) but not BPA; participants with high consumption (≥ 34.9% TEI from fast food) had 23.8% (95% CI: 11.9%, 36.9%) and 39.0% (95% CI: 21.9%, 58.5%) higher levels of ΣDEHPm and DiNPm, respectively, than nonconsumers. Fast food-derived fat intake was also positively associated with ΣDEHPm and DiNPm (p-trend < 0.0001). After adjusting for other food groups, ΣDEHPm was associated with grain and other intake, and DiNPm was associated with meat and grain intake.

Conclusion: Fast food may be a source of exposure to DEHP and DiNP. These results, if confirmed, could inform individual and regulatory exposure reduction strategies.


Environmental Health Perspectives is a publication of the U.S. Government. Publication of EHP lies in the public domain and is therefore without copyright.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is free of known copyright restrictions.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access