Are Obesogens Making us Fat and Not Our Diets? Supersize me!


February 16, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

fat kid with chicken

Obesogens be darned. Mom, where’s the BBQ sauce?

We’ve all heard the fat culprits before. Many times. But here goes. Bigger portions, couch potato lifestyles, too many video games that work our thumbs and not our waistlines, pre-packaged junk food, too many sodas and calorie-rich energy drinks, not enough exercise, sedentary jobs at cubicles, fast food and supersize options.

But, new research suggests something else may be causing us to be fat. And in some ways it’s scarier that the rest. Because it may be out of our control. It’s called Obesogens and “they” are literally all around us in our toxic environment. And get this, obesogens start making some of us fatter than others even before we are born.

Chew on that while you savor that Little Debbie Snack cake.

According to Dr. Bruce Blumberg, a developmental and cell biology professor at the University of California at Irvine, Obesogens are believed to work in at least three ways:

“First, by directly affecting adipocytes, or fat cells, by either increasing their fat-storage capacity or increasing their number; second, by changing metabolism, by both reducing the number of calories burned at rest and promoting the storage of calories as fat; and third, by changing the way the body regulates feelings of hunger and fullness.”

And where may I ask do we find these naughty fat-mongers, these aptly named obesogens?

Well, according to the good Doctor and his research team, they are basically all around us.

Sweet. Pass me some French Fries, I eat more when I’m stressed (let’s go ahead and add stress to our list as well).

Yep, these Obesogens are indeed ubiquitous. They comprise a range of chemicals we are exposed to which includes the ink on most cash receipts, the chemicals many fish and seafood ingest, the chemicals we breathe when we plug in air-fresheners to make our home smell pleasant, preservatives in most canned vegetables, mattresses and sofas treated with chemicals to make them flame retardant, nonstick fry pans, and, well, there are a lot more on the list but this is stressing me out more and you know what that calls for-I will have that double-fried Grande Burrito after all. Hold the obesogens please, if you can actually identify where they are hiding.


Put that science stuff down. You know you want me Amigo!

Now for the really frightening news about getting fatter. Blumberg and his team now believe that obesogens that your parents, grand-parents and even great-grandparents were exposed to like the dreaded and now banned DDT pesticide, have already worked their fat-magic on our hereditary genetic code and faster than you can say “Supersize Me” we are becoming supersized even before we are born. This, says researchers, is one of the main explanations for why each new generation of babies are getting on average bigger at birth than before. Initially, doctors thought it was due to better nutrition and diet by pregnant Moms. Not so. Apparently, using new technology to safely scan baby fat the increase (about 200 MG on average each year) is, you guessed it, all fat.

Check please.

“It’s impossible to know the precise contribution of obesogens to the obesity epidemic, but I would bet that it’s significant,” says Dr. Blumberg. In fact, additional research teams tell us that while DDT exposure has been greatly reduced its cousin TBT (an obesogen) has us surrounded.

Put your double meat lovers pizza down and your hands up.

Yep. TBT is still permitted in a variety of common household products many of use all the time. Unknowingly, they may be contributing to us getting fatter. Things like: Wood preservatives; disinfectants; and tiles, shower curtains, and window blinds made with polyvinyl chloride and even most hand sanitizers.

Did I mention sunscreens, detergents, shampoos and pajamas? How about soy infant formula?

Fat guy on beach

So, it’s my sunscreen to blame, huh? I knew it.

Okay, how about you hold the strawberry-kiwi shampoo and I’ll just eat a bucket of strawberry ice-cream instead?

Apparently, Dr. Blumberg and other spoil-sports don’t think that’s the answer. But, the research is challenging the long-standing energy-balance theory on growing fat. This theory essentially posits fat and reducing one’s fat as a mostly mathematical, caloric equation. Eat healthy and exercise will burn more calories than you take in. Do this consistently and fat eventually is burned and converted to energy. Voila, as the French and their diet rich in butter would say, you get skinny.

guy with food

I will find those obesogens, sacre bleu!

But wait, my croissant-swilling friend. It may not be that simple now. All of these obesogens, all of these toxins we get exposed to day after day, year after and generation after generation may have a lot to say about our ever-expanding tummies, waist and bodacious booties.

And advocates are now calling upon our elected officials to do something about it.

For the first time ever, the White House Council on Child Obesity in 2010 mentioned the need to study the impact of obesogens on childhood obesity. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received a modest 3 year stipend to conduct more research.

It’s a start. But it really is, pardon me, just a light appetizer. We need to increase our portion of our health budget devoted to knowing more, much more about the role of obesogens and other chemical toxins on our obesity levels, metabolism and hormonal health. And we owe it to new Moms everywhere to get the skinny on what they and their healthcare provider can do to reduce the chance that their new ever-growing bundle of joy is destined to a lifetime struggle with obesity.

We also owe it ourselves to add another obesity promoting item to our list-All You Can Eat Buffets.

Look people, anything that needs a “sneeze-guard” that close to your mashed potatoes and peach cobbler can’t be good for you. Obesogens or no obesogens.

dog at McDs

If it’s got obesogens you keep it kid.

And one more thing. Obesogens have recently been discovered as a coating spray on a number of fancy-designer purses and hand-bags.

Thank goodness I kept the receipt. Wait, that has obesogens too.

Lord have mercy. I’ll have that slice of Angel Food Cake as well. Don’t even think of putting it in a Styrofoam To-Go box. I hear those will kill you.








18 thoughts on “Are Obesogens Making us Fat and Not Our Diets? Supersize me!

  1. Mara says:

    I knew it! It’s not just the food I eat making me fat, it’s all those chemicals around us. I’m sure they are the same evil doer substances that are causing so much cancer among us. How can we avoid them?

    • good question! It is almost like trying to avoid breathing…but as advocates were successful in getting our government to offer unleaded gasoline after a mountain of studies made it clear leaded gasoline was harming our environment and us, it is possible to get more chemical toxins, obesogens, banned from everyday over the counter products.
      That and avoid the all-you-can-eat buffet lines!

  2. Victoria H says:

    We as humans should know what we are eating. When we eat a Little Debbie snack, we know that its not healthy or good for us. It has a shelf life. So how come we are surprised that it contains things in it that are bad for us?

  3. Sherri D says:

    Better living through chemistry? That’s what they’d like us to believe. Think about the toxins in the plastic bottle that your “pure” drinking water has been soaking in. And, oh by the way, it’s unregulated tap water anyway. Yes, people should have a right to drink a gallon of soda in a sitting if they so choose. Rather than outlawing Big Gulp sodas, the regulations should come in the form of standardized terms and not allow the industry to define what “all natural” means (it doesn’t mean anything, by the way). And in case you are a label-reader like I am, beware of the term “natural flavors” – those are chemicals as well. Part of it is our own fault – we want cheap food and convenience. Add those two together and you get a list of ingredients four inches long that you know what only three ingredients are. And don’t get me started on the fresh food. Why do we even allow pesticides on food that we put in our bodies? It’s harmful to the soil, the habitat, the air, the water, and to US. Remember when they told us that spraying DDT on our food was safe? Does it really make sense that a chemical designed to kill living things is going to be safe for us? What about the lack of food inspection – can someone please explain to me how poo gets on the food that I buy at the grocery store? That’s the only way your lettuce makes you sick with e-coli.

  4. Amber S says:

    This is definitely crazy! I personally take very good care of my body because I worry about becoming fat from all the “tempting” foods that America has to offer. I really do hate to go to a common restaurant and see over half of the people in the building are beyond obese. It is sad, but i did not realize that a chemical could have contributed to this. This is very scary indeed. I do believe however, that Americans have an obsession with food. I agree that buffets are the worst, because you are tempted to eat as much as you can to get your “moneys worth”. America needs to wake up and realize its ok not to think about your next meal every 5 secs of the day.

  5. Karissa S says:

    Am I the only one who feels like this is one more way society is trying and make every one feel good and take away the consequences of our actions? ‘Oh, it’s not your fault you’re over weight. It’s because of everything else around you.’ Now yes, I know that everyone’s body is different and some people really can’t help it. I, myself, am over weight but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that this is what they are trying to do. I also feel like this is another excuse for the government to regulate and control everything around us even more than they all ready do. Thoughts?

  6. Taylor K. says:

    This is so interesting. My parents always tell me I’m too skinny. Maybe I need to start using more hand sanitizer to put more meat on my bones.

  7. Daniel C says:

    I am rather fatigued with contemporary science trying to find reasons why people, and specifically Americans, are fat. The answer is plain regardless of body chemistry and food additives: MOVE MORE, EAT LESS! This Nation has waged a successful campaign against tobacco use. It was a generational approach that continues to work. It’s time to take the war to fatty because our healthcare costs are rising thanks to fat people.

    Do I sound incentive saying “fat” people”? Yes and it is by design. No one felt empathy for smokers. “That stinks, QUIT!” “Yuck, you smell like smoke” “I’m not kissing an ashtray” and the list of unflattering things said about smokers achieved results. Why do we cringe then from calling fat people fat? We say “heavy” or “love me as I am”

    WHY? Change the paradigm….

  8. Vander says:

    I agree with Daniel. It is not these chemicals that we put in our foods. It is the lack of an active lifestyle. Take a look at children today, they rarely play outside. When I was a kid, I was banned from the house except for meals and bathroom visits. Were my parents harsh? Nope. Should someone have called CPS and had me taken away from the house hold because my parents required me to be active and healthy? NOPE.

    Science has proven that when you burn more calories than you take in you will lose weight. This new “science” is just giving fat people another excuse to be fat. I am tired of it. I am tired of this country pandering to those too lazy to work. That work being anything and everything from exercising, to manual labor, to anything. We are more content to drive around the corner than walk there. We are more inclined to sit down on the couch instead of going for a walk. Walking is not that difficult. There are people without legs that still find a way. Why are fat people becoming another handicap?

  9. John K says:

    While it is shocking and can make one paranoid about how almost all everyday materials can make you fat, I hope this does not give people an excuse to eat more. They would gave that mindset that “oh I’m going to get fat anyways,what’s the point?”. I am not saying we have to banned all buffets, but why do you think when it comes to stereotypes, Americans are the obese people. We shouldn’t let these obesogens control what we use, but being healthy and in good shape should be a choice. We need to think of our future generations, and while obesogens apparently affect our next generations, that doesn’t mean just give in and be ok with them being obese.Why do you think so many people get diabetes, cancer etc? Obviously people have the right to eat what they desired, I can eat unhealthy at times, but I work out to balance it out, not many people do work out sadly. We have many problems as it is, but something that we can control, we still let it out of our hands, and into our stomachs.

  10. Kyle B says:

    I feel like this “new find” is just another attempt at Americans trying to justify being fat. If you exercise and eat right, you will lose weight. Some people have a harder time with losing weight, but that doesn’t mean we should try to blame it on something extreme like chemicals in the air around us. I mean, so what if there are obesogens around us? That doesn’t change the fact that you need to eat healthy and work out to lose weight.

  11. Jasen P says:

    I understand that there are chemicals in the world that we use that can produce more fat on our bodies but i feel the main reason is because we are too busy to work out. One of my best friends is on the obese side of life and we have come up with a solution to stop obesity. We feel that everyone says that you are beautiful at any size but we feel it is that thinking right there that is keeping people from wanting to work out. We feel that the truth may hurt but it will put the fire under their tail to get off the couch and get in shape.

  12. LaMoya N says:

    Chemicals are everywhere in our environment, and now all of a sudden one of the chemicals can cause us to get fat. My question is: where did this chemical come from and why so suddenly can it cause us to get bigger? Personally, I believe that people are lazy. They are too busy trying to find excuses to why they are the size that they are when all they have to do is eat right and exercise. Being big boned is not even a problem. The health that is affected is the problem. As for this chemical, why aren’t all of us getting huge or being affected by it? Are scientist and manufacturing companies contaminating our environment so much that they are producing this harmful chemical? Obviously someone is causing this problem. So, what can we do and how can we protect ourselves from gaining weight? Is it really food or is our environment being contaminated by products being produced?

  13. Wade M says:

    This is an interesting article in relation to chemicals and obesity. I still stand on the premise that if we control those things that we can such as diet, exercise, and sleep, obesity cases will be mere exceptions as compared to the masses of people in this country who are obese.

  14. Barbara B says:

    Reading this article makes me think of the challenge for some to lose weight as a lose-lose situation. Obesogens! I’ve always heard that just because the label states “low-fat”, “low-carb”, or low anything, for that matter, means nothing. They are simply words used on the label as advertisements. Nevertheless, I would have never heard of or thought of anything being put into foods or other products that make consumers obese. Now I totally understand the whole foods and organic foods movements. Seemingly, though, these are the best options as well as regular exercise because processed foods are making the populous into food junkies.

  15. Casey Holcom says:

    Oh man. My brain hurt after reading this article. I guess that could be all the obesogens on my desk, books, my laptop, and the air around me!

  16. Jacki G says:

    I do feel that losing weight is harder for some more than it is for others. I also think some people are born more apt for a healthy lifestyle. For example, some people are born with the natural ability to play sports and therefore will be more active. Others might be born with a passion for music or writing or cooking or something else that does not provide the same lifestyle as one revolving around sports. I think society does go overboard with shaming people who are larger than normal. However, I also feel that if this study were to be widely accepted, it would simply provide an excuse for people to continue with their inactive and unhealthy lifestyles. Ask anyone who has lost weight or gained weight at some point in their life. They will say they lost weight because they ate less and/or were more active or they gained weight due to the opposite. It makes me wonder if the scientist behind this study has a weight problem himself and is looking for a reason to excuse his weight.

  17. tarac says:

    Am I shocked by the new found cause of obesity now being a “new” chemical, not really. We are a society of NOW. We want things now and we do not care how we get it. Our children even have the now mentality. For example, the AT&T commercial with the kindergartners and the little girl stating “we want it now, we don’t want to wait”. There is a very visible change in the generations. I am a 40 year old who is 5’ 1 and pushing 120 lbs, but my niece who is only 13 looks like she could pass for 20. “It’s in the Chicken” that’s what I always say. I am by no means saying that we do not control our own way of life, however, with all the new chemicals that we are now being exposed to, there is no denying the connection. My husband worked for a company that actually stated in their safety manual that the chemicals that they work with are only hazardous in California, HUMM really can you explain how one coast is so much different than the other?
    It is the time for our society to step up and start questioning these chemicals. We need to research and be proactive on our own and stop relying on the government to regulate things because it’s not going to happen any time soon. So, while we are becoming such an obese society and putting all the blame on what we eat we need to start making the connections. Everyone’s body are different, what might work for one person to lose weight will never work for another. My sister and I are exactly that way, I can eat anything and not gain while my sister is actually working with a dietitian to help her control her weight. My sister was an academic person while I was a very active sport person. Yes, we are a very lazy era. Give your kids a tv and playstation and let them stay inside and eat chips and coke all day, please do not make them play outside the sun might give them some type of cancer. GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!!!!!!!!!! Do not miss understand me, I do believe that we also have to control our own health, you have to though and not blame your obesity on society.
    I guess in all where I am going with all this is do I see a combination of companies creating chemicals that affect our health, which can no longer be denied, and our society creating a “norm” of being obese now. We don’t want to make the time to go work out or cook a little bit healthier. However, when a person does everything in their power to get healthy and cannot, where do we place blame then? Genetics?

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