Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chemical planet = round people

198 pounds
As just about everyone on the planet knows, we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic right now—as a society, we're all getting fatter. Even babies are getting fatter!

And if you're like everyone else, you probably think that's because we are all eating too much crap and moving too little. Though there's some truth in that, that's not the only reason we're getting fatter. (And it certainly doesn't explain why babies are getting fatter.)

Another reason we're growing out rather than just up is that we now live in a chemical world—a world of BPAs and pesticides and EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals). Scientists are now calling these chemicals "obesegens," and their research is showing that they are one of the main reasons our collective girth keeps expanding.

As explained by the White House's Task Force on Childhood Obesity, obesegens throw our hormones and regulatory systems (and therefore our metabolisms) out of whack*, making us gain weight no matter what we eat—whether it's a cheeseburger or lean piece of salmon. And that's because so much of our food is exposed to these nasty chemicals. According to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D. and curators' professor of biological science at the University of Missouri, "Obesogens are thought to act by hijacking the regulatory systems that control body weight."*

The only choice we have then is to remove these obesegens from our diet. You can do that by eating more organic pesticide-free foods and grass-fed meats and by avoiding foods that have been stored or heated in products that contain such chemicals, such as plastics and cans. (This also means that you shouldn't heat your food in plastics or put plastics in the dishwasher because of the hot water.)

There are a lot of websites that make a distinction between certain kinds of plastics—they say things like, you can use this plastic but not this kind or you can eat this kind of organic produce but not this kind. But I wouldn't doubt it if ten years from now, we found out that this information wasn't accurate and that all plastics are evil. So why not just avoid them altogether? Go out and buy yourself $100 of glass containers and look at it as a long-term investment in both your body and your future. And, on your way home, be sure to stop by your favorite organic produce seller, ideally a local farmers' market.


  1. I saw a segment on the CBS Early Show last spring about this and bought The New American Diet, which is an eating plan for avoiding these chemicals ("obesogens"). I lost 9 pounds without really changing my food intake, just substituting in some organics and avoiding some plastics and soy products.

  2. Molly, Did you have a chance to look at Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things?

  3. I'll have to look at both Slow Death by Rubber Duck and The New American Diet. I really believe that we have no idea how much crap we take in from the regular things in our lives--like food and cleaning solutions and AC. Sadly, I bet that in 100 years, they will look back at our lifestyles and laugh.