These Daily Household Chemicals May Explain Why You Can’t Lose Weight
Fitness gurus, diet books and well-meaning parents can tell you that losing weight is all about the math: you take in calories through food and drink, you expel them through exercise (and the basic act of staying alive).
But let’s face it: how many diets have you been on that drastically reduced calories without anything happening to your waistline? As you count them, know that getting rid of the extra fluff is not that easy, and the reason you might not be losing weight is not for lack of trying, but because of daily exposure to certain obesity-promoting chemicals.
New evidence gathered by Leonard of Trasande, director of the NYU Center for the Investigation of Environmental Hazards, shows that the same household products we all use all time emit chemicals that increase your risk for obesity and obesity-related diseases. Trasande identifies these chemicals and their sources around the house, making them a little easier to get out of your house and possibly helping you lose weight.
â€œThe old ‘calories in, calories out’ mantra for obesity prevention overlooks the crucial role of chemical exposures as the third leg of stool,â€ says Trasande in A declaration support research. Trasande declined to be interviewed for this story.
These chemicals are called obesogens, and removing them from your environment can be both easier and more effective than a grueling fad diet, according to Trasande.
“Unlike diet and physical activity interventions, which can be difficult to implement, let alone maintain, levels of obesogens in food packaging and other materials can be altered by regulation.” , he said.
Trasande’s testimony was presented on Friday September 24 at the 59th European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology Meeting.
What’s new – In the article, Trasande presents new data suggesting a link between daily exposure to specific chemicals and obesity. These chemicals include bisphenols, phthalates, and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), and all cause dysfunction in the way the body stores fat and metabolizes energy.
While you may never have heard of obesogens before reading this story, there’s a good chance you’ve been exposed to it. Everyday household products, from laundry detergent to the foods we eat, release chemicals that promote obesity.
Why is this important – Beyond weight gain and slowing metabolism, obesogens can also pose other health risks, especially for the reproductive health of both men and women. Research shows that obesogenic exposure is linked to male infertility, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. Researchers have also linked an individual’s exposure to obesogens and an increased risk of developing breast cancer and prostate cancer.
There are steps people can take to minimize exposure to chemicals that produce obesity. In a 2020 paper, Trasande and her coauthors write that simply buying more organic foods can help on an individual level. But of course, that might not be an option available to everyone.
Sapna Shah, an endocrinologist from Paloma Health who was not involved in the study, says Reverse there are two other, cheaper ways to reduce your exposure to obesogens:
- Reduce the amount of processed foods you eat
- Check the label to see if your plastic is BPA free – if not, throw it away or don’t buy it
â€œMany brands of cosmetics, lotions, hair care products and toothpaste contain phthalates, triclosan and other harmful chemicals,â€ Shah explains. â€œOften, fabrics listed as flame retardant or stain resistant may contain EDCs. ”
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of articles these chemicals are in, but there are resources to guide you, Shah says.
“I also like to use ewg.org as a resource if I’m not sure about something.
Here’s the background – Chemicals that promote obesity affect the body by altering the endocrine system, which is linked to hormones. Your metabolism is one of the many bodily functions regulated by hormones.
When these chemicals enter and disrupt hormones in your body, it increases your risk of developing cognitive issues, reproductive issues, and immune issues.
â€œIn addition to causing weight gain, endocrine disrupting chemicals may also increase [the] risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, â€says Shah.
It is worrying that these chemicals are more common than scientists initially thought. To date, there are approximately 1000 chemicals found in man-made products that disrupt hormone levels.
What chemicals cause obesity?
Here are the three most common chemicals that promote obesity you might encounter:
- Bisphenols: Bisphenols increase the size of your fat cells and promote fat storage.
Bisphenols are found in plastic water bottles, food storage containers and the aluminum coating of soda cans and other canned foods. So while drinking one can of LaCroix may seem like the healthier option over high-calorie Coca-Cola, both cans of soda may contain bisphenols.
Exposure to bisphenols is linked to an increased risk of diabetes in adults, and other data also suggests that babies exposed to these chemicals are more likely to be obese later in life.
- Phthalates: Phthalates disrupt the body’s metabolism and rewire it to focus more on fat storage.
Phthalates are found in know, body cleansers, makeup and other personal hygiene products.
Phthalates are associated with obesity, especially in women. Adults exposed to phthalates are also at greater risk for diabetes. In addition, prenatal exposure to phthalates may increase the risk of childhood obesity.
- Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS): PFOS can delay weight loss by slowing of metabolism and promote fat storage.
PFOS are found in nail polish, eye makeup, non-stick pans and cleaning products.
And after – Knowledge can be powerful, and choosing products free of obesity-causing chemicals can help protect your health in the long run. But individual choices can only get us up to a point – surely it would be best to limit the production of these items in the first place.
by Transande research argues that change is needed at the institutional level. For example, developing new testing strategies to identify chemicals that promote obesity and restrict the amount available in everyday products would go a long way in reducing people’s exposure to these almost inevitable substances.
In the Lancet paper published in August 2020 and linked above, Trasande and colleagues explain that regulations to limit levels of synthetic chemicals in household products could influence public health.
Those policy recommendations understand:
- A universal definition of endocrine disruptors
- More testing options for countries that do not have the financial means to properly monitor chemical exposures of their populations
- Require companies to publicly disclose all chemicals used in a given product
- Testing for endocrine disrupting chemicals and withdrawing their use
- Establish a wing of the World Health Organization that monitors endocrine disrupting chemicals
“While a systematic assessment is needed of the likelihood and strength of these exposure-outcome relationships, the growing evidence supports urgent action to reduce exposure to [endocrine disrupting chemicals]Â», Write Trasande and his team.