CBS Local — Non-stick cookware was created to make cooking easier, but a new study claims that chemicals in your pots and pans may also be making some people fatter.

According to a report in PLOS Medicine, perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are reportedly found in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, and some fast food wrappers. Scientists say that the chemicals — which were already suspected of causing high cholesterol and possibly cancer — have been linked to rapid weight gain in some patients.

“These findings suggest that environmental chemicals may play a role in the current obesity epidemic. Given the persistence of these PFAS in the environment and the human body, their potential adverse effects remain a public health concern,” the researchers wrote.

Nutritionist Qi Sun and his team studied 621 overweight individuals who went through a six-month weight loss plan. After 18 months, researchers found that the dieters had regained nearly half the weight they lost. While the results varied, the study revealed that women with the highest levels of PFASs in their systems had gained the most weight since their diet.

“The sex-specific difference did surprise us a little bit,” Qi Sun, an assistant professor at Harvard said, via Time. Women with the highest levels of PFASs gained nearly five pounds more than those with lower PFAS levels.

The study could not prove that PFASs were the direct reason for the change in a person’s metabolism but cited a visible pattern of weight gain in patients with higher levels of chemicals in their body. Sun added that it’s “basically impossible” to avoid the non-stick chemicals because they are used in so many items. “We know that PFAS exist in food packaging materials, like fast-food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags. If you don’t eat those foods, you can possibly reduce your exposure.”

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