Obesogens in Unlikely Places
Obesogens are Chemicals That Cause Obesity
Environmental Chemical Pollutants That Cause Obesity
Get Rid of Obesogens
As Man stampedes with an unbridled eagerness to advance and improve things, new and more environmental chemical pollutants are produced. One side effect of some of these chemical pollutants is the expansion of our waist lines (due to increased body fat). We are now challenged by obesogens. Obesogens are environmental chemicals that cause obesity (1,2,3). These chemical pollutants are also called endocrine disrupters. Some of the common obesogens include phthalates (PVC s), atrazine, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), bisphenol-A (BPA) and artificial sweeteners.
Menacing Effects of Obesogens
Obesogens can be very harmful and menacing for any of the following three reasons. 1) Most people are not familiar with obesogens. 2) Some people are not aware that obesogens are harmful. 3) Many do not know that they are exposed to obesogens. Consequently, obesogens can harm both the careless and the health-conscious individuals.
An example of the type of harm that can be produced by obesogens is provided by the health problems from atrazine in regions of the U.S.A. where this environmental chemical pollutant was heavily used. Atrazine is a weed killer (herbicide) that is typically used to control broad-leaf weeds in the corn fields. Obesity became rampant in these regions when the drinking water was contaminated with atrazine. This nightmarish epidemic of obesity became controllable when they discovered that the drinking water was contaminated with atrazine which leached into the drinking water from the farms.
Is Obesity the Price of Progress?
Are you tired of hearing about countless number of factors that cause obesity? Do you want to close your ears and stop listening? Obviously, this approach will not solve the problem or support Man's progress. An effective and a responsible approach for solving or coping with obesogens and problems from these chemical pollutants should start with rejection of the contention that spewing unhealthy chemicals into the environment is a sign of progress. Progress is not made when the steps taken are harmful or erosive to our quality of life. Such harmful steps can only hinder progress.
Body Fat From Obesogens
Obesogens can give rise to obesity by a variety of mechanisms; however, most of these mechanisms are not adequately understood. In general, obesogens can promote obesity by impairing the appetite control mechanism or by impairing metabolism. Any factor that impairs the metabolic process (slows down metabolism) or impairs the appetite control mechanism can make it difficult to control body weight and body fat. Numerous reports (2,4) have focused attention on the role of obesogens in the current obesity crisis. Obesity from obesogens can occur by one or more of the following mechanisms:
u Promotion of insulin resistance in the liver and other tissues. Increase in insulin resistance results in the elevation of the plasma level of insulin and this, in turn, facilitates increased synthesis and storage of fat.
u Disruption of appetite control mechanism centrally (in the brain). Disruption of the appetite control mechanism (e.g. interference with leptin) makes it difficult to control the appetite.
u Causing an increase in the number and size of fat cells. Increase in the number of fat cells provides more room for fat storage.
Sources of Obesogens
Obesogens are found in a diversified number of chemicals, ranging from sweeteners to industrial pollutants. They can be found in our foods, drinking water and in various areas of our homes. Some of the obesogens and their sources are shown here:
u Sweeteners, including artificial sweeteners and fructose corn syrup are found in foods and beverages. Sweeteners promote insulin resistance, and some can also disrupt the appetite control mechanisms (5).
u The herbicide, atrazine, is found in foods and drinking water. It leaches into the water from the farms. Atrazine produces mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance (2).
u The industrial pollutant bisphenol-A (BPA) is found in some plastic containers, some plastic bags, and the linings of some canned foods such as canned soups. BPA promotes insulinresistance (6).
u The Industrial pollutant perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is found in non-stick frying pans, pizza boxes and microwavable popcorn bags. PFOA promotes hypothyroidism with resultant impairment of energy metabolism.
u The industrial pollutants phthalates (PVCs) are found in plastics such as shower curtains. They are also found in vinyl floors and air fresheners. Phthalates can impair metabolism and also lower the level of testosterone.
Avoiding or Minimizing the Adverse Effects of Obesogens
Numerous measures can be taken to avoid or minimize the adverse health effects of obesogens. A general approach for minimizing the effects of obesogens is to consume only unrefined organic foods and minimize the usage of plastics and synthetic products. Some specific measures for reducing the adverse health effects of obesogens are shown below.
u Atrazine. Install granular activated carbon filter in the faucets to remove atrazine and numerous other organic compounds from the water.
u Bisphenol A (BPA). Avoid bottles and containers where BPA can leach into the edible content. Avoid heating or putting hot water and hot foods in plastic containers that have BPA. Plastic bottles and containers with resin identification numbers 2, 4 and 5 (in the bottom) are considered safe (8). Those with number 3, 6 and 7 can leach BPA. They should be avoided. Alternatively, one can refrain from consuming beverages and foods stored in plastic bottles and containers.
u Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Stop cooking with frying pans and cooking utensils with Teflon lining if the lining is scratched. Alternatively, one can stop cooking with utensils lined with Teflon.
u Phthalates (PVCs). Stop using shower curtains and plastics that contain PVCs.