We owe a lot to nonstick pans: easier sautéing, smoother frying, and best of all, less cleanup time after cooking. But do we also owe them that stubborn five pounds around our middle that keeps coming back? A recent study from Harvard researchers found a link between this convenient cookware and weight gain.
The February 2018 findings, published in PLOS Medicine, examined 621 overweight people who were taking part in a six-month weight-loss plan. The researchers checked in on the study's participants 18 months after they finished the weight-loss plan, and found that they had gained back nearly half the weight they lost. After taking a closer look, the researchers learned that people with the highest levels of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) had gained the most weight. These PFASs are man-made chemicals that can be used to keep food from sticking to cookware — and yes, they're often found on pots and pans.
"These findings suggest that environmental chemicals may play a role in the current obesity epidemic," the researchers wrote. "Given the persistence of these PFASs in the environment and the human body, their potential adverse effects remain a public health concern."
But before you throw out all your beloved Teflon pans, keep in mind that these studies did not prove that nonstick cookware causes weight gain; rather, the studies noticed a connection between use of these wares and overweight people packing back on the pounds after losing some. The study authors also noted that they aren't sure why PFASs could possibly cause weight gain, and that further research is needed to pinpoint the underlying link between exposure to the chemical and weight regulation.
It's also worth remembering that a wide variety of factors — like genetics, diet, and exercise – play a role in how much we weigh. So for the time being, let's stay tuned to this developing (and fascinating) research, but keep in mind that one study like this is no reason to buy a whole new set of pots and pans.
And yes, you can still cook your egg on the Teflon for breakfast tomorrow morning!
Next, learn which foods can help you banish bloating in the video below: