Recent Fast Food Consumption and Bisphenol A and Phthalates Exposures among the U.S. Population in NHANES, 2003-2010

Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Oct;124(10):1521-1528. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1510803. Epub 2016 Apr 13.


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 U.S.

Methods: We combined data on 8,877 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2010). Using 24-hr dietary recall data, we quantified: a) fast food intake [percent of total energy intake (TEI) from fast food]; b) fast food-derived fat intake (percent of TEI from fat in fast food); and c) 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.

Citation: Zota AR, Phillips CA, Mitro SD. 2016. Recent fast food consumption and bisphenol A and phthalates exposures among the U.S. population in NHANES, 2003-2010. Environ Health Perspect 124:1521-1528;

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / metabolism*
  • Eating
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Fast Foods / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Phenols / metabolism*
  • Phthalic Acids / metabolism*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phenols
  • Phthalic Acids
  • diisononyl phthalate
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate
  • bisphenol A