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"Could Common Food Preservative Make People Fat?" - Amy Norton

  • Health Day
  • New York, NY
  • (April 24, 2019)

If you’re watching your weight, you probably know to avoid sugary and fatty foods. But what about preservatives? Eating a preservative widely used in breads, baked goods and cheese may trigger metabolic responses that are linked to obesity and diabetes, an early study suggests. The additive, called propionate, is actually a naturally occurring fatty acid produced in the gut. When it's used as an additive in processed foods, it helps prevent mold. Emily Gallagher, MD, assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said it’s important to dig into the metabolic effects of food additives. "People may look at food labels and think they are making healthy choices," said Dr. Gallagher, who had no part in the study. "But without our knowledge, very small amounts of certain additives in food may be causing detrimental metabolic effects." That said, it's too soon to point the finger at propionate, according to Dr. Gallagher. She called these early findings "thought-provoking," but said longer-term studies are needed to better understand any health effects from the additive.

— Emily J. Gallagher, MD, Associate Program Director, Research, Director, Research Residency, Department of Medicine, Assistant Professor, Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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Additional coverage: U.S. News & World Report; WebMD; Healing Well;Doctors Lounge