Findings from a new study have suggested that chemicals known as phthalates are linked to insulin resistance and obesity in teenagers.

For the study, researchers took measures of the concentration of DEHP, a phthalate that can be found in many processed foods, in the urine of 766 adolescents aged between 12 and 19. Results showed that those with higher levels of the phthalate in their urine had higher insulin resistance rates, which is often a precursor for Type 2 diabetes, the Huffington Post reported.

When researchers looked into the effect of a number of other insulin resistance risk factors, such as the teenagers' body weight and average calorie intake, results still remained unchanged. However, the association was not confirmed for any other types of phthalates, such as those found in cosmetics or personal care products.

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Lead researcher, Dr. Leonardo Trasande, professor of environmental medicine and pediatrics at New York University, explained that under laboratory conditions phthalates had an impact on the expression of genes linked to the response of an individual to sugar ingestion with insulin secretion.

A previous study linked phthalates to insulin resistance in adult males, so the new research sheds more light on the fact that they may have a more universal role to play, Trasande stated.