DURHAM, N.H. — A recent University of New Hampshire study has concluded that chemicals used in flame retardants commonly found in household items can lead to insulin resistance and potential obesity.

The Portsmouth Herald reports the research was conducted by nutrition professor Gale Carey and was funded by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. The findings were published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.
Carey’s research team found that lab rats exposed to polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, experienced a metabolic disruption that led to the development of enlarged livers and obesity.

Fat cells collected from the exposed rats developed a sensitivity to hormones that is also exhibited by people who are overweight.

PBDEs are found in chemicals used to fireproof items such as couches, carpet padding and electronics.