Recent research shows that obesity affects the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in mice. But the pollutants that were studied did not make the mice fatter.

The scientists at NIFES wanted to find out whether persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as PCB and the pesticide DDT, have any effect on the development of obesity or diabetes. To find out more, mice were given fish oil diets with four different POPs in different dosages.

‘We expected there to be differences between the dosages, but observed no influence on the development of obesity or diabetes. There was no effect,’ says Lene Secher Myrmel, scientist at NIFES.

The findings from the mice trials will now be published in an article in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. In the article, Myrmel explains that they did find the POPs in the fatty tissue, although no effect of the pollutants was observed.

‘The POPs accumulated in the fatty tissue in proportion to the size of the dosage,’ Myrmel says.

Better ‘storage capacity’

The scientists then tested whether different types of diets had a bearing on what happened to the pollutants in the mice. One group of mice was given a low-fat diet, another a high-protein, high-fat diet, while the last group was fed a high-sugar, high-fat diet.

‘The pollutants did not affect the development of obesity or diabetes, regardless of the diet,’ says Myrmel.

‘But the mice that were given the high-protein diet remained slim and also accumulated less of the POPs in their fatty tissue than the mice that were given the high-sugar diet.’

This may be because, when you eat a diet that makes you fat, you accumulate more because you have more fat in your body and thereby better ‘storage capacity’, Myrmel explains.

‘The POPs we tested did not affect the development of obesity, but the development of obesity affected the accumulation of POPs,’ she says.

Will study more diets

Myrmel says that these findings indicate that diet is important to the level of pollutants you accumulate in your body.

‘Obesity makes your body more susceptible to pollutants, and you can change this through your diet,’ says the scientist, who now wants to study other diet compositions.

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