Yes, you heard that right. Obesogens are a category of endocrine disrupters that can interfere with hormones. There are approximately 20 known obesogens in items that we use every day.
What they are how they make us fat
Obesogens mimic estrogen and bind to anything in the body that looks like estrogen, in both men and women. Many affect the metabolism and cause fat cells to grow rapidly. They can be found in plastic water bottles and food containers, non-stick cookware and microwave popcorn, and even in our water.
Types of Obesogens
BPA- found in plastic water bottles, Tupperware containers and plastic baby bottle. Canada and Denmark realize the danger of this obesogen and have enacted laws to try to reduce it. BPA affects hormone receptors called PPARS, which are involved in metabolism. One study found that they were involved in blood that has Type 2 diabetes. It can also program fats cells to incorporate more fat, which makes them grow larger in size.
Organotins– This obesogen is used for industrial purposes. TBT (a kind of organotin) is a fungicide used on boats so that marine life such as algae, do not grow on them. It is also used in wood and industrial water systems. One study found that this obesogen can cause fat cells to grow rapidly. Another study exposed mice to this chemical for 45 days and they found it caused weight gain and fatty liver disease.
PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid)– This obesogen is found in non-stick cookware and microwave popcorn. It has been found in the blood of 98 percent of Americans. PFOA has been associated with low birth weight, thyroid problems and chronic kidney disease. In one study, mice were exposed to PFOA’s during development and they found that it caused increases insulin, leptin, and higher body weight later in life.
Phthalates– This obesogen is found in food packaging, which makes it very hard to avoid unless you buy fresh, unprocessed food. A study found that it increased the waist size in men and caused problems with insulin in the body. Insulin is a fat forming hormone.
Atrazine– This is a pesticide that is used on corn and sugarcane crops. It is also used on grass in residential homes and golf courses. Atrazine has been shown to increase body fat in children.
What can we do to avoid them if they’re everywhere?
We can start by using glass or stainless steel water bottles, glass baby bottles instead of plastic, and food storage containers that are also made of glass. We can avoid buying non-stick pans and cookware, and opt for cast iron pans or pans without the coating. Buy fresh organic foods from farmers markets to avoid pesticides and food packaging chemicals. Try to use a water filter that can filter out many of the harmful chemicals in our tap water.
Any step to avoid obesogens is a great step toward better health. Although most of the effect that these chemicals have on our bodies is unknown, it is better to be safe than sorry.