We all know that poor diet and lack of physical activity are major contributors to the obesity problem, but did we know that there is a class of man-made chemicals that are also linked to increased susceptibility to weight gain? Called obesogenic and are found in many everyday products.
Do you need another reason to stop using plastics and add fresh food to your diet? When you learn about the dangers of obesogenic exposureyou will reconsider how you package, store and choose your food.
What are obesogens?
Obesogens are man-made chemicals found in various food containers, kitchen utensils, and plastics. They have become known as a subset of endocrine disrupting chemicals.
These chemicals have been shown to be involved in weight gain. They can also interfere with any aspect of hormonal action and have been linked to problems related to fertility and puberty.
There are more than 20 chemicals that are identified as obesogenic. The term was coined around 2006, when it was discovered that exposure to these chemicals during early development disrupted normal metabolic processes and increased a person’s susceptibility to weight gain throughout life.
It is not that obesogens cause obesity directlybut they do increase your susceptibility and sensitivity to gaining weight, especially if you are exposed to chemicals during development.
Studies indicate that obesogens promote obesity by altering the programming of fat cell development, increasing energy storage in fat tissue, and interfering with the neuroendocrine control of appetite and satiety. In other words, they change the way your body regulates feelings of hunger and satiety.
obesogens they can also increase the effects of diets high in fat and sugar.
Most common obesogens and their dangers
The most common obesogenic environment that shows its dangers is made up of the following disruptive elements:
Phthalates are obesogenic chemical compounds that are added to plastics to increase their flexibility and longevity. They are used in a wide range of cosmetic and food products, including children’s toys, cosmetics, food packaging, sunscreens, detergents, and more.
More than 75 percent of the population in the United States alone are believed to have detectable levels of various phthalate metabolites.
In a 2019 meta-analysis involving 29 publications, researchers concluded that, overall, there is a positive association between phthalates and obesity, especially in adults.
Beyond its effect on weight gain, phthalate exposure has also been linked to reproductive disorders, including sperm DNA damage, testicular toxicity, and delayed pubertal milestones.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
The toxic effects of BPA are well known. Synthetic compounds are associated with inflammatory conditions, infertility, and vitamin D deficiency.
The BPA exposure has also been linked to obesity and diabetes. A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health state that there is a suggested possible causality between BPA exposure and childhood obesity, and data indicate that BPA exposure itself increases the risk of obesity. obesity in children.
You’ve seen BPA-free bottles in the supermarket, but the dangerous obesogenic compound It is also present in plastic tableware, toys, medical devices, PVC compounds, and dental sealants. It can also be hidden in beer kegs, metal coffee cans, aluminum beverage cans, jar lids, and cooking oil bottles.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are man-made chemicals that have been used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications, including as pigments in paper, plasticizers in paints, plastic and rubber products, and electrical equipment. Although the use of these obesogenic chemicals in the US was banned in 1979, they are still present in soil, products, buildings, and drinking water.
They can accumulate on leaves, plants, and food crops and are absorbed into the bodies of fish and other small organisms. Once they are in an environment, they do not break down easily.
PCBs have been shown to affect the development of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, according to research published in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.
Atrazine is the second most widely used herbicide in the country. It attaches to crops, soil, and surface water, eventually ending up in the water supply at unsafe levels. It is one of the most common contaminants in drinking water and causes toxicity in tap water.
It is known as an endocrine disruptor that causes hormonal changes and can lead to serious developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immunological problems.
Atrazine may contribute to the development of insulin resistance and obesity, particularly where a high-fat diet is prevalent.
Tributyltin is a man-made chemical that is used as an antifouling agent in paints that are applied to boats, ships, and fishing nets. It has polluted many lakes and coastal waters, and is dangerous to a wide range of marine organisms.
Although many regulatory authorities have prohibited the use of the obesogenic chemicalis still found on large ships and seeps into the sea.
Research published in Vitamins and Hormones indicates that the obesogen tributyltin can exert toxicity through many mechanisms, but more recently it has been shown to alter processes that are critical for fat metabolism. Exposure to this class of chemicals can signal stem cells to become fat cells, which contributes to weight gain and obesity.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
Perfluorooctanoic acid is a drinking water contaminant that is known to be extremely resistant to environmental degradation processes and therefore persists indefinitely.
According to a review of the literature published in Environmental Research, the obesogenic contaminant has been detected in drinking water finished, drinking water sources affected by emissions from industrial facilities and wastewater treatment plants, as well as in waters with no known point sources.
PFOA has been classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board. It is also considered an obesogen, and a 2018 meta-analysis found that exposure to the obesogenic contaminant in early years of life is associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity and a higher body mass index.
Exposure to cigarette smoke is the cause of many health problems, including obesity. In fact, one of the earliest links between human fetal development and obesity arose from studies of exposure to cigarette smoke in the womb.
Babies born to mothers who smoke are often underweight, but tend to “compensate” as they develop and grow, gaining weight throughout infancy and childhood.
A national survey of more than 20,000 Japanese adults found a positive association between the number of cigarettes smoked per day and obesity.
How to minimize the obesogenic environment
The most dangerous time for obesogen exposure it is during early development, as a fetus and during the first few years of life. This is because at a young age, your body’s weight management mechanisms are still developing.
Here are ways to minimize exposure:
- Avoid foods stored in plastic.
- Use glass containers and bottles.
- Do not put plastics in the microwave.
- Make your own beauty and skin care products.
- If you buy cosmetics, use organic and natural products.
- When using plastic products, look for containers that are BPA- and phthalate-free.
- Use “fragrance-free” products.
- Choose cast iron or stainless steel cookware.
- Don’t buy stain-resistant or fire-retardant rugs or furniture.
- Use a water filter, such as granular activated carbon and reverse osmosis filter systems.
- Eat fresh foods (including fruits and vegetables) whenever possible.