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The Chemicals in Your Food


An unhealthy diet and the lack of exercise are the main factors that contribute to overweight and obesity; however, the scientific community is increasingly finding that exposure to chemicals in our diet and environment is also a contributing factor. (1)

This article focuses upon three categories of chemicals that contribute to human weight gain and other health issues: Obesogens, Pesticides and Plastic Polutants.


Obesogens.

Obesogens are chemicals that interfere with a body’s Endocrine System, disrupt energy balance or modify the regulation of appetite and satiety to promote fat accumulation and obesity. (2)


Common Types of Obesogens.

1. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a synthetic compound found in many types of products, including baby bottles, plastic food and beverage containers, as well as metal food cans. Multiple studies have linked BPA exposure to weight gain and obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, thyroid dysfunction, cancer and genital malformations. (3)

2. Phthalates are chemicals and Endocrine System Disruptors that are found in many plastic products. Some studies show a link between phthalate exposure and obesity, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and low testosterone levels; (3)

3. Perfluorooctanoic acid is found in non-stick cookware and other products that has been associated with thyroid disorders, low birth weight and chronic kidney disease (3)


What role do Obesogens play in Weight Gain?

“New research shows that certain chemicals in our food—even seemingly healthy picks, such as lean meats, fish, fruits and veggies—could be encouraging your body to hang on to fat. These toxins—known as Obesogens—disrupt the function of our hormones and others alter our gut biome, causing an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. The imbalance can lead to confused hunger cues, a sleepy metabolism, and an increase in fat cells and fat storage—all of which can lead to weight gain. Worse, these Obesogens have also been shown to increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.” (4)


“Today, according to Stephen Perrine, author of "New American Diet," we have all sorts of chemicals in our foods, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and plastic pollutants, to name a few. He says they aren't good for the environment, they aren't good for our bodies, and they also cause you to be overweight. (5)


Pesticides.

About 105 Pesticides have been identified as Endocrine System Disruptors of which: 46% are insecticides, 21% herbicides and 31% fungicides. (6) These pesticides are referred to as Endocrine Disrupting Pesticides.


More than 90 percent of the corn, soy, wheat, and potatoes grown in the US—many of our prime export crops—are treated with pesticides. Virtually no conventionally grown crops are untouched, but tomatoes, apples, grapes, rice, oranges, and peanuts top the USDA’s list for the amount used on the farm level. (7)


Pesticides used most on these crops include glyphosate (the active ingredient in “Roundup”), atrazine, chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D, and two less well-known pesticides called metolachlor and acetochlor. All of these have been identified in various scientific studies as having adverse effects on the endocrine system. (7)


Impact of Pesticides on Human Health.

Pesticides are toxic and human exposure to pesticides is linked to a range of serious illnesses and diseases including: obesity, diabetes, respiratory problems, decreased fertility, genital malformations, prostate cancer, breast cancer, early respiratory tract irritation, allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, loss of consciousness, seizures, extreme weakness, asthma; depression, anxiety, non-Hodgkin lymphoma; attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and death. (8)


Plastic Pollutants.

A new report reveals that plastic exposure is a human health crisis. Plastics pose distinct risks to human health, arising from both exposure to plastic particles themselves and associated chemicals. (9)


The exposure to humans comes at all stages of plastic’s lifecycle: Extraction and transportation of fossil feedstocks for plastic; Refining and production of plastic resins and additives; Consumer product and packaging which can lead to ingestion and/or inhalation of microplastic particles and hundreds of toxic substances; plastic waste management resulting in pollutants entering air, water and soil; Exposure as plastic degrades which further leaches toxics into the environment; Plastic waste management, especially “waste-to-energy” and other forms of incineration, releases toxic substances including heavy metals such as lead and mercury, acid gases and particulate matter, which can enter air, water, and soil causing both direct and indirect health risks for workers and nearby communities; ongoing environment exposures as plastic contaminates and accumulates in food chains through agricultural soils, terrestrial and aquatic food chains, and the water supply, creating new opportunities for human exposure.


SOURCES:

1) https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/obesity/obesogens/index.cfm

2) https://www.ehn.org/dieting-and-exercise-arent-enough-chemicals-are-making-us-fat-2550463702.html

3) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-chemicals-that-are-making-you-fat#section1

4) https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/a20457721/food-chemicals-and-weight-gain/

5) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chemicals-in-food-can-make-you-fat/

6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138025/

7) https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/europe-pesticides-endocrine-disruptors/

8) http://www.pan-uk.org/health-effects-of-pesticides/

9) https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2019/2/20/report-plastic-threatens-human-health-at-a-global-scale

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