By Rachel Cernansky, Planet Green
Hormone-mimicking chemicals that already have a bad rap for their role as endocrine disruptors in the body (including the notorious bisphenol A (BPA)), are now thought to also screw with the body’s metabolism and, depending on the amount and timing of exposure, predispose individuals to obesity.
We’re surrounded by these chemicals: BPA and pthalates are everywhere, from water bottles to dryer sheets to the PVC pipes that deliver your shower water, and they’re taking their toll. Call them obesogens–a term coined by Bruce Blumberg, a leading researcher on the issue. A recent Newsweek story illustrates the increasing body of evidence that links these chemicals to the body’s metabolism.
The problem is two-fold: in developing fetuses and newborn babies, the compounds turn precursor (undeveloped) cells into fat cells, and they may also interfere with the body’s metabolic rate even later on, driving the body to store calories rather than burn them.
No one’s blaming these compounds for the entire obesity epidemic in the United States–fast food and lack of exercise are not off the hook–but emerging research points to obesogens as one cause of the unexplained tendency for some individuals to gain weight no matter what (or how little) they eat or how much they exercise. Obesogens seem to have the ability to disrupt the fundamental rule of weight management and body chemistry: weight gain occurs when calorie consumption exceeds the amount of energy burned. A potential explanation is that the compounds disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and may cause weight gain by, for example, programming the body’s clock to eat when it should be sleeping.
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