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Americans Struggle With Their Weight. Why?

American adults are struggling with their weight while adults of the same age living 20 to 30 years ago found it easier to maintain a healthy weight. (1) (2) There are several contributing factors to Americans being Overweight and Obese, but this post presents some well-guarded American secrets as to why.

Drugs and Hormones in Meat.

Approximately 99 percent of chickens, 90 percent of pigs, and 78 percent of beef cows in the United States are raised in animal factories. Animal factories rely on drugs and growth hormones to produce rapid rates of weight gain and to suppress the negative health effects that heavily-concentrated confinement has on farm animals. (3)

Beta-agonist Drugs in Meat.

Ractopamine is a Beta-agonist drug that can add between 15 and 30 pounds to beef cattle in the last three to four weeks of the fattening period leading up to slaughter. (4) Ractopamine is marketed as Paylean for pigs, Paylean 20 for chickens, Optaflexx for cattle and Topmax for turkey. (5) As much as 20 percent of this drug can remain in the meat you buy.

Ractopamine Banned in 160 Countries, but not in the United States.

Ractopamine is banned from food production in 160 countries due to its potential negative health effects. (6) However, Americans are largely unaware that this drug is used by U.S. food producers.

In both pigs and cattle, FDA reports links the drug to: excessive hunger, anorexia, bloat, respiratory- and hoof problems, lameness, stiffness, stress and aggression, and—again—death. In fact, of all reported side effects, death topped the list as the most reported problem associated with Ractopamine. (7)

Zilmax—Another Beta-agonist Drug Used in Livestock

Zilmax (Zilpaterol) is another Beta-agonist drug used in cattle to increase weight by as much as 30 pounds per animal. Zilmax is already banned for use in horses due to severe side effects, including muscle tremors and rapid heart rates that can last as long as two weeks after stopping the drug. Zilmax is about 125 times more potent than Ractopamine. (7)

Beta-Agonists in Meat Pose Human Health Hazards.

"The use of highly active Beta-agonists as growth promoters is not appropriate because of the potential hazard for human and animal health, as was recently concluded at the scientific Conference on Growth Promotion in Meat Production (Nov. 1995, Brussels)."

According to Randox Food Diagnostics, the use of Beta-agonists prior to slaughter is of particular concern as this poses a risk to the consumer and may result in consumer toxicity. (8)

Weight gain is also common complaint among asthma patients using Advair (a Beta-agonist drug)—so much so that the manufacturer has added weight gain to the post-marketing side effects. (9) Other adverse reactions to Beta-agonist drugs include increased heart rate, insomnia, headaches, and tremors.

Beta-agonists drug labels WARN: "Not for use in humans," and "individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure." (5)

Ractopamine is known to effect the human cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, reproductive and endocrine systems. According to the Center for Food Safety, Ractopamine causes elevated heart rates and heart-pounding sensations in humans. The Center for Food Safety also states, the drug mimics stress hormones and has a number of adverse effects on pigs, including high stress levels, lameness, hyperactivity, broken limbs and death. (5) (16)

Data from the European Food Safety Authority indicates that Ractopamine causes elevated heart rates and heart-pounding sensations in humans. (5)

In an effort to get Ractopamine out of American meat products, the Center for Food Safety and Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the US Food and Drug Administration for withholding records pertaining to Ractopamine's safety. (8) Yet, few Americans are aware of the drugs they are consuming and the resulting risks and damages.

Hormones in Food.

Between 90 and 95 percent of all beef cattle entering feedlots in the United States are given hormones to promote faster growth. There are six anabolic steroids given, in various combinations, to nearly all animals entering conventional beef feedlots in the U.S. and Canada: three natural steroids (estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone), and three synthetic hormones (the estrogen compound zeranol, the androgen trenbolone acetate, and progestin melengestrol acetate). Measurable levels of all the above growth-promoting hormones are found at slaughter in the muscle, fat, liver, kidneys and other organ meats. (10)

Even though the European Union banned the use of all hormone growth promoters in 1988, the United States permits the use of growth hormones and very few Americans are aware of the hormones that they are consuming and their associated risks and damages.

Approximately 15 percent of dairy cows are given hormones to increase milk production. (11)

Nearly half of all fish consumed worldwide each year are raised on land- or ocean-based aquafarms. On aquafarms, high-volume systems control food, light (on indoor farms), and growth stimulation. Genetic engineering is used to accelerate growth, and hormones may be injected into fish to change their reproductive behavior in order to increase production. In some countries, fish farmers also add antibiotics to the fish’s food or water, and residues of these drugs have been found in fish sold for human consumption. (12)

Impact of Growth Hormones on Human Health

In 1989, the European Union fully implemented a ban on imports of meat and meat products from animals treated with growth promoters. The European Commission has justified its ban as necessary to protect consumer health and safety. (13)

Scientific research commissioned by the European Union has concluded that six growth hormones used for growth promotion pose a risk to consumers. The adverse health consequences include endocrine system disruption (The endocrine system includes all glands that produce hormones that regulate the body’s growth, metabolism and sexual development & function) as well as negative neurobiological, reproductive, immunological, immunotoxic, genetoxic, and carcinogenic effects. (14) (15)


1) https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/why-it-was-easier-to-be-skinny-in-the-1980s/407974/

2) https://www.insider.com/why-adults-weigh-more-now-than-in-the-80s-2017-6

3) https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/307/animal-factories/animal-factories-and-animal-welfare

4) https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/08/21/214202886/inside-the-beef-industrys-battle-over-growth-promotion-drugs

5) https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/war-over-ractopamine-heating

6) https://www.randoxfood.com/ractopamine-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-banned-in-over-160-countries/

7) https://realfarmacy.com/the-food-additive-banned-in-160-countries-but-not-america/

8) http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/the-meat-additive-banned-in-160-countries-but-the-fda-claims-its-safe-for-americans/

9) https://www.canadamedsunited.com/blog/does-Advair-cause-weight-gain

10) https://www.organicconsumers.org/scientific/growth-hormones-fed-beef-cattle-damage-human-health

11) https://www.fooddialogues.com/article/animals-generally-dont-receive-growth-hormones/

12) https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/fish/aquafarming/

13) https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40449.pdf

14) https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/hsus-report-issues-with-hormones-welfare.pdf

15) https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2014/07/09/13/42/opposition-to-the-use-of-hormone-growth-promoters-in-beef-and-dairy-cattle-production

16) https://robynobrien.com/meet-ractopamine-the-drug-in-your-meat-that-is-banned-in-100-countries/


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