What are Obesogens and How Can They Disrupt One’s Diet & Health?

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People looking to eat nutritious foods, be healthy, and maintain or lose weight should be aware of the hidden menace that are obesogens.
People who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle have long been aware that eating a balanced diet coupled with exercise is a good way to care for oneself. Over the years, dieters have also likely read numerous reports on counting calories, counting carbs, watching the fat, and more. In more recent years, in fact, many health conscious eaters have also been aware of organic food choices, genetically modified foods, and more. But now there’s a new factor involved in the American obesity crisis, and its name is obesogen.

So what exactly is an obesogen? Simply put, obesogens – according to Dr. Al Sears – are “endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)” that can be found in what people eat and drink as well as synthetic man-made products in the environment (things like shampoo and toys). In today’s modern world, it seems difficult if not impossible to escape all the ways people can be exposed to obesogens.

How Obesogens Work

Obesogens are “invisible”; that is, one can’t point at one and identify it. However, they are in food, water, and other items in one’s everyday environment. For example, BPA (bisphenol A), which has received a lot of press recently, is an obesogen. BPA is found in multiple plastics used in everything from the plastic lining in canned goods to baby bottles. The BPA in the plastic leaches into the food inside; for example, BPA will leach into a can of soup that is lined with BPA-containing plastic.

Obesogens – that is, EDCs – work in the way they do because they affect hormones; they do so by disrupting the way hormones work naturally. Many EDCs affect estrogen levels, and Retha Newbold, a researcher with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, confirmed the connection between hormones and obesity, according to Newsweek.

Protecting Oneself from Obesogens

If obesogens are virtually everywhere, how does a person protect herself from this invisible predator? Stephen Perrine, author of the book The New American Diet (which addresses the issue of obesogens), acknowledges that these toxins are prevalent in our environment (and therefore hard to avoid), but there are things people can do to avoid exposure.

Some of the things Perrine recommends are avoiding the non-organic “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables (because non-organic foods are sprayed with chemicals like pesticides and herbicides); mass-produced animal products (for example, beef from Concentrated Animal Farming Operations, also known as CAFOs); and food containers lined with plastic.

Avoiding a Toxic Environment

It may sometimes seem difficult to protect one’s family from potential dangers in the environment, but being aware of problems can make it possible. While the discovery of obesogens is fairly recent, the advice on avoiding them isn’t. Things like eating organic fruits and vegetables when possible as well as avoiding processed foods will go a long way towards helping families stay healthy and toxin-free.

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