With obesity and diabetes at their peak, researchers are faced with the possibility that lack of exercise and poor eating habits are not the sole culprits behind the ris of obesity and diabetes.

Studies demonstrate that persistent organic pollutants otherwise known as POPs may be a contributing factor to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes risk factors, such as overweight and insulin resistance, which can increase the chances of coronary artery disease, a stroke and type-2 diabetes.

Recent scientific studies led by Dr. Jerome Ruzzin, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bergen, suggests POPs has more of a health impact than people realize. POPs enter our body when we eat fatty foods such as dairy products, meat and fatty fish.

“A great number of studies are now showing that people with high concentrations of POPs in their body are developing metabolic syndrome. We are talking about ordinary people who live in normal environments,” Dr Ruzzin said in a statement. “So this means that we are being exposed to far too high levels of POPs that may have a major impact on our health.”

Naturally nutritional changes are prescribed as a remedy for metabolic syndrome, but Dr. Ruzzin believes there is too little information about the effects of the POPs in specific foods to make any thorough recommendations. He suggests there should be more time put forth in examining the combination of pollutants and nutrition in people.

Dr. Ruzzin is also concerned about the POPs that are at a low concentration level individually, may interact with other POPs or hazardous substances to cause severe consequences, which are referred to as the “cocktail effect”.

“Current threshold values for pollutants are probably too high,” Dr Ruzzin says, “which means that the regulatory framework needs changing. Food producers need to eliminate hazardous substances to a far greater extent than they do at present, and we consumers need more information about the kinds of chemicals we could be ingesting with their food products.”

Researcher Sofie Christiansen of the Technical University of Denmark states, “There is no doubt that the importance of interactions between different hormone-disrupting chemicals has been underestimated.”

Dr. Ruzzin's research on POPs and metabolic disease was published in BMC Public Health.