With all this talk of Chemical Weapons and Syria, did you know that just when you began to buy into the idea that you are fat because you eat too much and do not exercise enough, along comes a study that provides a bit of a reprieve?
As we reported previously on GMO’s about genetic modifications to our food supply, apparently, being fat is not necessarily your fault, its the chemicals that make us “Eat it!”
“Consider, for example, this troublesome fact, reported in 2010 by the biostatistician David B Allison and his co-authors at the University of Alabama in Birmingham: over the past 20 years or more, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s marmosets. As were laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas.
In fact, the researchers examined records on those eight species and found that average weight for every one had increased. The marmosets gained an average of nine per cent per decade. Lab mice gained about 11 per cent per decade. Chimps, for some reason, are doing especially badly: their average body weight had risen 35 per cent per decade. Allison, who had been hearing about an unexplained rise in the average weight of lab animals, was nonetheless surprised by the consistency across so many species. ‘Virtually in every population of animals we looked at, that met our criteria, there was the same upward trend,’ he said.”
“It isn’t hard to imagine that people who are eating more themselves are giving more to their spoiled pets, or leaving sweeter, fattier garbage for street cats and rodents. But such results don’t explain why the weight gain is also occurring in species that human beings don’t pamper, such as animals in labs, whose diets are strictly controlled.
In fact, lab animals’ lives are so precisely watched and measured that the researchers can rule out accidental human influence: records show those creatures gained weight over decades without any significant change in their diet or activities. Obviously, if animals are getting heavier along with us, it can’t just be that they’re eating more Snickers bars and driving to work most days. On the contrary, the trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species.”
For the first time in human history, overweight people outnumber the underfed, and obesity is widespread in wealthy and poor nations alike. The diseases that obesity makes more likely — diabetes, heart ailments, strokes, kidney failure — are rising fast across the world, and the World Health Organization predicts that they will be the leading causes of death in all countries, even the poorest, within a couple of years. What’s more, the long-term illnesses of the overweight are far more expensive to treat than the infections and accidents for which modern health systems were designed. Obesity threatens individuals with long twilight years of sickness, and health-care systems with bankruptcy.
Many researchers believe that personal gluttony and laziness cannot be the entire explanation for humanity’s global weight gain. Which means, of course, that they think at least some of the official focus on personal conduct is a waste of time and money.
As Richard L Atkinson, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin and editor of the International Journal of Obesity, put it in 2005: ‘The previous belief of many lay people and health professionals that obesity is simply the result of a lack of willpower and an inability to discipline eating habits is no longer defensible.’
What hidden factor is contributing to the epidemic of obesity? Why, if body weight is a matter of individual decisions about what to eat, should it not be affected by differences in wealth or by relations between the sexes? Why are more poor people fat and why does it seem that, for every two overweight men there are three overweight women?
To make sense of all this, the thermodynamic model (that is the model that argues if you eat more than you burn off in exercise you gain weight) must appeal to complicated indirect effects. The story might go like this: being poor is stressful, and stress makes you eat, and the cheapest food available is the stuff with a lot of ‘empty calories’, therefore poorer people are fatter than the better-off. This belief assumes that ‘a calorie is a calorie is a calorie’: who you are and what you eat are irrelevant to whether you will add fat to your frame. The badness of a ‘bad’ food such as a Cheeto is that it makes calorie intake easier than it would be with broccoli or an apple.
According to Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, an organic compound called bisphenol-A (or BPA) that is used in many household plastics has the property of altering fat regulation in lab animals. Researchers found urine levels of one type of phthalate, used to soften plastic, were tied to a higher risk of insulin resistance among teenagers. Based on data from the same large nutrition survey, another study group linked BPA — used to line aluminum cans — to obesity and larger waists in youth.
BPA is in everything from children’s sippy cups to the aluminium in your favorite soda pop drink cans. Virtually all residents of developed nations have traces of it in their pee. As well, in any developed or developing nation there are many compounds in the food chain that seem, at the very least, to be worth studying as possible ‘obesogens’ helping to tip the body’s metabolism towards obesity. For example, a study by the Environmental Working Group of the umbilical cords of 10 babies born in US hospitals in 2004 found 287 different industrial chemicals in their blood. Beatrice Golomb, professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, has proposed a long list of candidates — all chemicals that, she has written, disrupt the normal process of energy storage and use in cells. Her suspects include heavy metals in the food supply, chemicals in sunscreens, cleaning products, detergents, cosmetics and the fire retardants that infuse bedclothes and pyjamas.
Last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA from baby bottles, but said there was not enough evidence for a more widespread ban. The FDA has not placed regulations on phthalates in food products.
As well, medications supposed to help us may actually be a double edged sword. Popular diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos actually promote weight gain, as do certain antidepressants. The popular food additive MSG, pesticides, and PVC plastics are also believed to contain obesity-promoting chemicals.
Previous studies have found an increased rate of diabetes among farmers and pesticide applicators, but it appears that even the low doses that the general public encounters can mess with our hormones. Banned organochlorine pesticides that linger in the food chain, such as DDT, have been linked to obesity, along with organophosphate pesticides and carbamates (the popular household insecticide Sevin is a carbamate pesticide). “Pesticides are designed to interfere with a lot of hormonal processes that insects require to replace themselves,” explains world-renowned researcher Theo Colborn, PhD, president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. “The same chemicals that affect insects affect us.”
Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals tied to obesity, and they are ubiquitous in the personal-care product industry, particularly due to the chemicals’ use in synthetically fragranced products.
A 2010 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children with higher phthalate levels in their bodies experienced stunted growth. Avoid personal care products that list “fragrance” or “parfum” as an ingredient, and nix air fresheners and scented candles. They are likely laced with phthalates and a host of other hazardous materials. (Choose beeswax if you need candles.)
A new review of hundreds of scientific studies surrounding glyphosate—the major component of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide— sheds light on its effects within the human body. The paper describes how all of these effects could work together, and with other variables, trigger health problems in humans, including debilitating diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.
Chemicals in vinyl chloride plastics called organotins persist in the environment, and are strongly linked to obesity. Exposure of mice to the organotin tributyltin (used on ship exteriors to prevent the buildup of crustaceans) before birth created permanent changes that pre-disposed the animals to weight problems. PVC plastics, such as pipes, vinyl flooring, and other vinyl products, contain dibutyltin, another organotin. Adding insult to injury, vinyl is also laced with phthalates, an obesogen . Avoid bringing vinyl products, including flooring, shades, purses, and shower curtains, into your home, and practice effective cleaning—PVC breaks down and can lurk in household dust.
Not only do babies born to mothers who smoked throughout pregnancy face an increased risk of being born prematurely and underweight, but strong research also suggests that those same babies face an increased risk of being obese as they grow older. Nicotine (or nicotine plus some other component of cigarette smoke) could tinker with the child’s metabolic system; researchers just aren’t sure yet of the mechanism. Perhaps compounding the problem, low-birth-weight babies born to smokers could also be put on a “catch-up diet”, further increasing their risk of obesity later in life.
Chemicals and metals might promote obesity in the short term by altering the way that energy is made and stored within cells, or by changing the signals in the fat-storage process so that the body makes more fat cells, or larger fat cells. They could also affect the hormones that spur or tamp down the appetite. In other words, chemicals ingested on Tuesday might promote more fat retention on Wednesday.
To be fair, scientists are also theorizing that obesity may be caused by our altered environment, thanks to our increased standards of living. By this, they mean that living in environments where our bodies do not have to work to keep us warm or cool means that fewer calories are spent on those activities, so we gain weight. Another thought is that obesity could quite literally be contagious.
A virus called Ad-36, known for causing eye and respiratory infections in people, also has the curious property of causing weight gain in chickens, rats, mice and monkeys.
You might be wondering why everyone isn’t fat. It is actually pretty simple. There have always been people who are more chemically sensitive. Those with allergies, asthma, hay fever or digestive problems often struggle where others prevail. Moreover, if your detox systems are working well your body will remove most of the offending chemicals. However, if you are one of the many whose diet is low in the nutrients needed to keep your detox organs working optimally and is rich in chemical calories, then you have a double-whammy. Chuck in a resistance to exercise (which boosts detoxification) and you have a pretty clear picture.
Who is to blame for this rise in obesity? According to emerging data, lack of knowledge about chemicals used in our products, poor food quality, and bad advice from the medical community regarding weight loss, have all contributed to the obesity epidemic. Naturally, we look to our governments and medical specialists to provide us with answers. However, if recent trends hold, we are on our own.
So, assuming we are on our own to solve our obesity problem, take a leaf out of Gwyneth’s Paltrow‘s book and learn that it is all about getting a “clean” diet. It forces the old diet world order to do an about-turn. Rather than looking at food in terms of fat or calories, think in terms of its organic status and nutrient value.
The humble avocado, denied by dieters the world over, becomes a fat-fighting food par excellence due to its protective oils and durability over more fragile foods. Diet drinks and low-calorie processed foods should not enter your grocery cart.
We may not like it, but people whose job it is to stay thin and attractive for a living, have a vested interest in finding the best way to do so. Thus, actors are going to know the tricks to maintaining a healthy weight. If you can afford it, purchase organic foods and avoid high processed foods. Stay away from the fast food places and load up on fresh vegetables. Read labels. If you cannot pronounce something written in the list of ingredients, you likely should not be eating it.
As much as possible, avoid chemical laced clothing, furniture and home building supplies. Speak out about chemicals in these products. There is not a lot of purpose in working to make life better for people if it end up making us sick in the process.
Stay tuned as Kenn from RockwaterReports announces more of our new Real News series during 2020 and beyond!
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