These Chemicals in Your Food Promote Obesity

A recent study at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute used a new technique to look at how common chemicals in your food could contribute to obesity.

Food Chemicals Study – No Animal Testing Needed

This isn’t the first study to link food chemicals to obesity, but it is the first to use human stem cells to study their effects. There are two exciting things to know about this new research method:

  1. By using human stem cells, the researchers didn’t have to test on animals.
  2. This method is more accurate and more cost-effective than animal testing.

It’s a win for science and for animals. In a press release, Clive Svendsen, PhD, called this ”a landmark study that substantially improves our understanding of how endocrine disruptors may damage human hormonal systems and contribute to the obesity epidemic in the U.S.”

Researchers can use this method—rather than animal testing—to look at how other chemicals impact our health, as well.

Food Chemicals and Obesity: Study and Results

The researchers took blood samples from adult humans and converted the cells into stem cells that they used to grow the type of tissue that lines the gut and the brain tissue that controls our appetites and metabolisms. Then, they exposed these cells to three common food chemicals to see what happened. The chemicals they studied were:

  • butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) - A preservative used in cereals, crackers and other shelf-stable packaged foods.
  • perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - You probably know PFOA as one of the toxic chemicals in many brands of nonstick cookware. It’s also used in paper food packaging to keep greasy foods from leaking. PFOA isn’t an additive—it leaches into our food during cooking or from the packaging.
  • tributyltin (TBT) –  A pollutant that accumulates in seafood. Like PFOA, companies don’t directly add TBT to seafood. It’s a chemical in paints and products used to keep boats clean. TBT pollutes the water and, in turn, contaminates fish, mollusks and other aquatic animals that people eat.

They found that these chemicals all interfere with the hormones that go from our guts to our brains. They also damaged parts of the cells that are key to our body’s metabolism. There was also evidence that this effect can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, meaning that eating food containing these chemicals may impact your child’s metabolism, as well.

Why this Method Matters

This stem cell technique for testing the safety of food chemicals is less expensive and more ethical than the methods that came before it. There are thousands of chemicals considered “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) by the FDA after very little testing, mostly done by the company who manufactures the chemicals.

The researchers hope that their method will give us a more accurate picture of how chemicals impact our health. Study co-author Dhruv Sareen said, “By testing these chemicals on actual human tissues in the lab, we potentially could make these evaluations easier to conduct and more cost-effective.”

Related at Care2

A recent study used a new technique to look at how common chemicals in your food could contribute to obesity.

All images via Thinkstock.


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill7 months ago

Where is the FDA in all this? Probably taking bribes and kickbacks! This has been happening during administrations of both Democrats and Republicans! Shameful!

bob P
bob P8 months ago

thanks for the great information

Marija M
Marija M9 months ago

Not on my table...tks.

Kay M
Kay M9 months ago

Good afternoon and thank you for this article - good information -sincerely KAY M.

Trish K
Trish K9 months ago

Sitting on my hinny leaving comments promotes a fat ass too . No Processed Food

Margie F
Margie FOURIE9 months ago

Cant give up the crisps.

Janet B
Janet B9 months ago


Katie S
Katie S9 months ago


Virginia Miller
Virginia Miller9 months ago

Thanks for the info.