5 Environmental Toxins that Contribute to Obesity

Its mind blowing to think that environmental toxins could really cause someone to gain weight, but that appears to be the case! While most people know that some chemicals can cause serious health problems, new studies suggest that they're also linked to obesity. In fact, these toxic substances are now being labeled as ‘obesogens’.

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The exact mechanism that causes these chemicals to contribute to excess fat is unknown at present – mainly because the research is still considered to be in its early stages. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of what you’re exposing yourself to! One thing you can be sure of is that certain chemicals can set the stage for obesity by priming cells (in utero and beyond) to become more fat friendly.

Jerry Heindel, leader of the reproductive and developmental toxicology group of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, declared that more than 15 chemicals and classes of chemicals have been identified as potential obesogens.

"We have 57 separate studies under way and can expect a huge increase in the amount of data available", Heindel said.

That being said, scientists are no doubt just beginning to scratch the surface. The worst toxic offenders appear to trigger the production and storage of fat cells. You can expect that as time goes by, more of these chemicals will be identified! For now though, here’s the top 5 environmental toxins to concern yourself with!

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5 Environmental Toxins That Contribute to Obesity

  • You wouldn’t ordinarily think of flame retardants as being an issue for the majority of the population. You'd probably also assume they'd only be a problem for firefighters, but you'd be wrong. Retardants are found in many electronics that most people come in contact with daily. The two common flame retardants (tetrabromobisphenol A and tetrachlorobisphenol A) in question are found in many electronics, including tablets, smartphones, and circuit boards.

    In a study at the University of Houston, zebrafish that were exposed to both of these environmental toxins grew larger and fatter than the fish that weren’t exposed to them, even though both groups were given the same amount of food and had the same swimming routines.

    In another study, researchers fed two groups of sibling fish the same high-cholesterol diet. When cells were tested, researchers found unusually high lipid (fat) levels in the tissues of the chemically treated fish – even though exposure was minimal. What’s even more concerning is that TBBPA and TCBPA have been detected in toddlers and infants that consumed their mothers breast milk.

    How prevalent are these chemicals? Manufacturers produce about 150,000 tons of TBBPA and 10,000 tons of TCBPA every year.

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  • Triflumizole, a chemical that’s widely sprayed on crops in the US to prevent fungal diseases, has been known to alter genes and prompt cells to turn into fat cells. What's worse is that the process can begin prior to birth, according to research published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

    Pregnant mice exposed to TFZ gave birth to babies with larger fat deposits. When researchers collected stem cells from the baby mice, they found that these reprogrammed cells were much more likely to become fat cells, instead of other cells like bone cells.

    Bruce Blumberg and Felix Grün, the researchers credited with coining the term "obesogen," developed the theory that chemicals such as TFZ change the signaling pathways that control how fat cells and tissues are formed.

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  • Bisphenol A’s are environmental toxins that are known to cause weight problems. They're an endocrine disruptor that contributes to a wide variety of health issues and is said to be one of the original obesogens. Researchers realized BPA’s potential to alter hormone actions that affect metabolism - increasing the risk for obesity. A number of past and present studies have found direct associations between obesity in children and their exposure to BPA.

    One Kaiser Permanente study found that teenage girls with high levels of BPA in their urine, doubled their risk of being overweight. Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that boys with higher BPA levels were more likely to become obese.

    And while BPA has been removed from plastic water bottles and most plastic containers today, it’s still used to line aluminum cans and found in most every cash register receipt you touch. Older plastic food storage containers may also contain plastics that contain BPA. Time to throw those away and get updated versions right?

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  • Another flame retardant called polybrominated diphenyl ethers caught the attention of researchers because it’s a close chemical match to BPA. According to studies at the University of New Hampshire, PBDE’s slow the metabolism of sugar and fat, which can lead to weight gain. Its also been known to cause a cluster of health ills known as metabolic syndrome.

    In a recent study, researchers found that lab rats exposed to PBDE’s for a month, became less sensitive to insulin, raising their risk of becoming diabetic. The rats also developed enlarged livers and decreased production of a liver enzyme that helps control the metabolism of fats and sugars.

    Whre are BPDE’s found? They’re found in carpets, sofas, and other similar types of furniture.

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  • Tributylin is one of the most well documented environmental toxins. Numerous studies show it can cause metobolic changes that increase the production of fat cells. Baby mice exposed to TBT developed fatty tumors and liver disease, in a study at Texas A&M University. Other studies have linked prenatal tributylin exposure with genetic changes that lead to bigger and increased numbers of fat cells. These changes appear to be passed from generation to generation.

    Tributylin is a chemical used to retard the formation of mold and mildew in various household paints and cloths.

    It is crystal clear that environmental toxins are related to a growing problem with fat and their related ills. The good news is that you can help trim the fat just by decreasing your exposure to them!

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