Scientists are having a hard time explaining why over 50 percent of our population is overweight. Could the chemicals we use daily be the culprits?
Obesity is growing in epidemic proportions worldwide – pun intended. In Canada, over the last 30 years, 59 percent of the population has become overweight. Infant obesity has risen by 70 percent. The United States has comparable stats. And it’s not just in North America. Even countries like Kuwait are experiencing obesity epidemics where 87 percent of its population is overweight.
So is it just the North American fascination with fat-laden foods that has our fannies expanding faster than our clothes can keep up with? Scientists think not, and suspect that there is a culprit at the bottom of our inability to control our weight.
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Man-Made Chemicals and Weight Gain
Here’s a new word for you – obesegens. Notice the word obese snuck in there. Obesegen was coined by biologist Bruce Blumberg to describe the chemical compounds in our environment that are believed to program us to gain weight. That’s right – program our bodies to gain weight. That’s nasty!
These chemicals are used in everyday life and are found in food packaging, plastics, cosmetics and pesticides. The water from your plastic water bottle is absorbing obesegens and making you and your kids pack on the pounds – no matter how diligently you watch your food intake or how many stairs you opt for over the elevator.
How Obesegens Work
Obesegens are chemicals that have the ability to interfere with our normal metabolic functioning, explains Dr. Blumberg. They cause our metabolic hormones to be reprogrammed to favour fat cell development. This results in fat accumulation and obesity.
Research is still in the early stages and it’s still not evident as to what degree obesegens contribute to overweight. What appears to be clear, though, is that these chemicals can program a fetus to make extra fat cells during fetal development. The consequences can be overweight children that grow into overweight adults. Blumberg suspects that anyone born after World War II has been exposed to this effect.
The End Result
With extra fat cells comes extra weight – weight that may not respond to diet and exercise. All caused by these common, household, everyday chemicals that have the ability to disrupt our endocrine functioning in the womb. These endocrine disruptors are found in the foods we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe and may prove to be key to the obesity epidemic.
Studies on animals have shown obesegens to be endocrine disruptors. If human trials show the same results, we may be left with the heart breaking dilemma of the inability to lose weight no matter how hard we try.