Weight Gain Woes: Chemicals Closely Linked to Childhood Obesity

Some chemicals inside our homes have been linked to obesity based on the hormonal impacts they have at small levels. These chemicals are referred to as “obesogens” and they contribute to the obesity epidemic by disrupting how our bodies create and store fat. In the last thirty years, obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in teenagers. And this year, a group of endocrinologists gave a press conference stating that “obesogens” are an environmental factor needing more attention. The good news is there are actions you can take to safeguard your family. Here’s a basic list of what to avoid:

  • Pesticides: Certain pesticides are linked to increased BMI in children and shown to build up resistance to insulin, which can lead to diabetes. SOLUTION: Buy organic and get a robust water filtration system.
  • Bisphenols like BPA and BPS: These chemicals, found in thermal receipt paper, cans, and bottles, may increase abdominal fat and glucose intolerance. SOLUTION: Don’t allow children to handle receipt paper and avoid plastic and cans.
  • Surfactants like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): This chemical is used in nonstick coatings like Teflon, Gore-Tex, food packaging, carpeting, and clothing. Exposure in pregnancy is linked to increased weight in girls. SOLUTION: Avoid non-stick pans and kitchen appliances and fast food packages.
  • Phthalates: Found in plastic, vinyl, toys, air fresheners, and personal care products, this chemical has been linked to affected thyroid hormones and growth levels in children. It has also been linked to insulin resistance and belly weight in adult males. SOLUTION: Avoid plastic as much as possible and anything that is labeled with the word “fragrance” or “perfume”.
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS): HFCS has effects on metabolism and has been linked with weight gain but is not considered a hormone-disrupting chemical. SOLUTION: Avoid HFCS like the plague.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG): MSG hides in restaurant food, canned soups, and packaged food. MSG has been known to increase appetite, leaving you feeling “not full” and craving more food. SOLUTION: Cook from scratch at home to avoid MSG.
  • Tributyltin (TBT): This chemical can be found in vinyl products, as a fungicide, bactericide or pesticide, and as a preservative for wood, textiles, and carpets. SOLUTION: Toss out vinyl products like shower curtains, and when remodeling your kitchen, consider eco-friendly alternatives. Use safer pesticides around the home.  
  • Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners interfere with healthy gut bacteria and are linked with inducing glucose intolerance. SOLUTION: Stick to natural sweeteners, but use sparingly.
Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): Formerly used as an electrical insulator and flame retardant but banned in 1979, Rodale News reports most exposure comes from contaminated fish, meat, and dairy products. SOLUTION: Cut down on fatty meats and dairy.
  • Flame retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs): PDBEs are found in furniture, cars, electronics, carpet, and building materials. When broken down, they attach themselves to dust. SOLUTION: Dust weekly and reduce the amount of clutter you have inside the home. Also make sure to wash your hands more.

For more information on how to avoid dangerous chemicals, pick up a copy of Leah’s book: Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!).

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