Do perfumes make you fat?

Paula Baillie-Hamilton, a visiting researcher at Stirling University, links increasing environmental concentrations of artificial chemicals with increases in levels of obesity. She says: “These substances are known to damage many of the mechanisms involved in weight control......it has been generally accepted, in recent years, that weight gain can be evidence of chemotoxicity”. (Baillie-Hamilton, 2002) Among the chemicals listed as being known to cause weight gain are phthalates, which are found in perfumes (see ‘perfumed children’).

Artificial perfume ingredients are accumulating in human body fat and breast milk. In 1999, scientists found that women with a higher body mass index (BMI) also had higher levels of galaxolide - an artificial musk - in their breast milk (Müller et al., 1996). Evidence suggested that it was not the higher BMI that caused the higher chemical concentrations, so it may well be that the chemical increases BMI.

The same chemical has been found to slow down people’s thought processes (see below).