Many people think that the reason we Americans are getting so fat is the amount of food we take in and the lack of exercise we get. But some scientist think It may not just be large portions and inactive lifestyles causing our waistlines to expand.
UC Irvine biologist Bruce Blumberg is one of many researchers exploring how chemicals used in plastics, food packaging, pesticides and cosmetics can trigger dramatic increases in body fat. He has even coined his own word for these compounds that interrupt the normal function of metabolic hormones: obesogens.
Blumberg, professor of developmental & cell biology and pharmaceutical sciences says, “It makes a lot of sense that chemicals able to reprogram metabolism and favor the development of fat cells could be important contributing factors to obesity, The role of obesogens in fat accumulation raises questions about the effectiveness of just diet and exercise in helping people lose pounds and maintain a proper weight.”
Obesogen research is in its early stages but gaining widespread attention, including recent coverage in Newsweek magazine. No one really knows how much these chemicals are contributing to the obesity epidemic, but what Blumberg and other researchers around the world are finding is clearly giving us something to think about.
Since most of these chemicals are found in pesticides and in conventionally processed foods it makes a lot of sense to avoid these chemicals whenever possible but that’s easier said than done since even the package your food comes in may be a contributor. Obviously eating organic and all natural will help, but let’s face it, eating only organic produce can be expensive and not always necessary. Some produce has little or no pesticide residue. But how do you know which ones are safe and which aren’t? These two lists can help you be a smarter shopper and a healthier eater.
The Dirty Dozen
(Twelve fruits & vegetables that should ALWAYS be purchased organic)
Sweet Bell Peppers
The Clean Fifteen (Fifteen fruits & vegetables that can be purchased conventionally)
Where are Obesogens hiding?
In your fridge: Pesticides and PCBs
These are the most common pesticides & PCBs found in the human body. They get into your body when you ingest them through your food, most often in fruits and vegetables, commercial dairy and meat and many other items. They are considered to be endocrine disruptor’s (DDT, DDE, atrazine, vinclozoline tributyltin, carbendazim, HPTE and endosulfan).
In your pantry: Plastic Compounds
75% of all Americans have detectable levels of phthalates in their bodies. These compounds are plastic softeners that mimic estrogen and are found in the linings of canned food and beverages, sports bottles, children’s toys and PVC pipes and many other things.
In your Water: Hormones, pesticides and other industrial chemicals
According to the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, 54% of all tap water tests positive for pesticides. Atrazine has been detected in 90% of municipal water supplies. According to the American Chemical Society, pharmaceuticals (like birth-control hormones & anti- depressants), industrial chemicals and pesticides make their way into our drinking water.
Eating real all natural food and being aware of where your food comes from and how it’s packaged can go a long way in making you a lot healthier and maybe even thinner. But a smart shopper always knows what to spend a little more on and when it’s right to save a few dollars.