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Chemicals in cereal could make you fat

 
  • Not only are they full of sugar, but they contain an additive with links to obesity
  • Butylhydroxytoluene, often added to protect nutrients, is an endocrine disruptor
  • Evidence has shown such compounds to wreak havoc on animals’ waistlines
  • But until now, the real effects on humans had yet to be accurately revealed

Stephen Matthews For Mailonline

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It may be best to stick to having jam on toast for your breakfast.

A landmark new study has unveiled the worst nightmare for cereal lovers – eating a bowl each morning could make you obese. 

Not only are certain varieties full of sugar, but they contain a common additive that could well be a gender-bending chemical.

Evidence has shown such compounds to wreak havoc on animals’ waistlines, but until now, the effects on humans had yet to be accurately revealed.

Butylhydroxytoluene, often added to protect nutrients, was one of three endocrine disruptors tested by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center researchers.

A landmark new study has unveiled the worst nightmare for cereal lovers - eating a bowl each morning could make you obese

A landmark new study has unveiled the worst nightmare for cereal lovers - eating a bowl each morning could make you obese

A landmark new study has unveiled the worst nightmare for cereal lovers – eating a bowl each morning could make you obese

It is more commonly known as E321, and used to be listed in the ingredients panel of Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisp.

General Mills, the US manufacturer of such popular ranges, pulled the additive from its production line amid growing concerns over its safety.

Campaigners were concerned because of its links to liver damage, and inconclusive evidence on various forms of cancer.

Manufacturers instead seek to use its chemical cousin E320. This can be found in Kelloggs Special K bars, as well as Weight Watchers Double Chocolate Cereal Bar.

The other two chemicals tested were perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – found in carpets, and tributlytin (TBT), a compound that can be found in water and seafood. 

CEREAL FIRMS ARE ‘HIDING’ SUGAR

Breakfast cereal firms are ‘hiding’ the levels of sugar in their products by shunning traffic light labels, campaigners said this week.

Dorset Cereals, Rude Health and Eat Natural have no nutrition labels on the front of their packs.

And while Kellogg’s, Nestle and Jordans do use labels, they are not colour coded as recommended by the Department of Health.

Poor labelling leads us to eat more sugar than is healthy, fuelling dangerous levels of obesity, campaign group Action on Sugar argues.

It added many cereal brands, often targeted at children, would have red labels for sugar if they were to use the traffic light system. 

It said all products should use the same traffic light labels – red, amber and green on the front of packs to identify high, medium or low levels of sugar, fat and salt. 

A ‘landmark’ study

Lead author Dr Dhruv Sareen said: ‘We discovered each of these chemicals damaged hormones that communicate between the gut and the brain.’ 

Dr Clive Svendsen, also involved in the research, added: ‘This is a landmark study that substantially improves our understanding of how endocrine disruptors may damage human hormonal systems and contribute to the obesity epidemic.’

How was the study carried out? 

In the first study of its kind, researchers developed a new testing method to test the effects of endocrine disruptors on humans.

They investigated the exposure of the three chemicals on hormone-producing tissue grown from human stem cells.

It was done to see how the compounds interfere with signals sent from the digestive system to the brain that tell people when they are full.

When this messaging system breaks down, people often continue eating, causing them to gain weight.

What did they find? 

Of the results, BHT produced some of the strongest detrimental effects, the study published in Nature Communications noted.

The chemicals also damaged mitochondria – cellular structures that convert food and oxygen into energy and drive the body’s metabolism.

Other scientists have focused on how these compounds disrupt hormone systems in animals, hence the gender-bending nickname. 

More than one-third of US adults are considered to be obese, according to federal statistics. Data in the UK paints a similar picture.

IS THIS THE END OF CEREAL?

It’s the most important meal of the day. But the tradition of gathering around the breakfast table is dying out.

It’s mainly thanks to a generation of young Britons who either skip the meal completely or ‘grab and go’, a report revealed this week.

Half of 16 to 34-year-olds miss breakfast, with this age group also accounting for a third of those who eat breakfast away from home.

Meanwhile those aged over-55 are the most likely to have breakfast, as well as being the most likely to eat it at home.

An estimated one in ten breakfasts are now eaten outside the home, up 1.8 per cent in the past year.

While this had provided a boost to High Street coffee chains, it has seen a fall in sales of breakfast cereals.

Ready-to-eat cereal sales were down by nearly £40 million in the year to the end of April, according to an analysis by Kantar Worldpanel for The Grocer.

However, the rise of on-the-go eating has seen the overall number of breakfasts eaten rise by 0.7 per cent to 2.1 billion.

The trend for abandoning the family breakfast table is being driven by the so-called ‘millennial’ generation, who have reached adulthood this century. 

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