Understanding Obesogens

There’s a new group of secret saboteurs in the war against weight gain. They’re called obesogens, and they are all around us. Here’s how to track down the enemies to win the battle of the bulge.

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Other common places to find obesogens:

  • In your faucets: Pesticides seep deep into the soil and find their way to the water table and into your tap water. The main obesogen in tap water is atrazine. Banned in Europe, but found around the United States, atrazine slows thyroid hormone metabolism. Another culprit found in tap water, tributylin, a fungicide painted on the bottoms of boats, stimulates fat cell production.
  • Cans and water bottles: Bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen used to make plastics hard which has been banned from baby bottles, but is still present in many other plastics (especially sports water bottles) and the lining of most cans, has been shown to increase insulin resistance in animal studies.
  • Nonstick pans and microwave popcorn: Animal studies have shown that early exposure to a chemical used to make items non-stick – Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – leads to obesity in later life. It also is known to affect thyroid glands, which are important regulators of hormones that control weight. Found mainly in products like Teflon pans, it’s also hidden in microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes.
  • Shower curtains and air fresheners: Phthalates, chemicals found in vinyl products such as shower curtains and fragrance products such as air fresheners, may lower testosterone and metabolism levels, causing you to gain weight and lose muscle mass. They’re also found in vinyl flooring and industrial-grade plastic wrap used to shrink wrap meat in the grocery store.