CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) -
1. I eat well and exercise yet I struggle with my weight. I heard chemicals in my food and the environment may affect my weight. How is that?
More and more good studies suggest that weight gain is not only about eating too many sweets and sitting around playing computer games.
One of the many factors that affect our weight may be chemicals in our food and environment called endocrine disruptors. These chemicals mimic hormones. Hormones tell our bodies what to do, eat or don't eat, store fat or burn fat. The environmental chemicals confuse our body telling it to make more and larger fat cells.
In one study, researchers took mice that were genetically the same and gave them the same food and chance to exercise. Some became fat and some became slim. The only difference? At birth, the fat mice were exposed to a very small amount; one part per billion of a chemical that mimics hormones.
Experts say the brief exposure programmed the mice to store fat even long after the chemical was gone. A second study found that a fungicide used on many foods including leafy green vegetables caused obesity in mice. Another study, found that women with a pesticide residue in their blood had babies who were more likely to be overweight by 14 months old.
The Presidential Task Force on Childhood Obesity acknowledges that they're about 20 chemicals that may affect our weight. One expert from the University of California has called these chemicals "obesogens". They include the chemicals in plastic and cans that leach into our food and pesticides used on food. So store food and even water in glass and buy organic foods when you can.
Are some people more vulnerable to this than others? It is most important to avoid exposure to these chemicals for a fetus and children before puberty. Experts say doctors need to warn pregnant women about certain chemicals.
In one survey only 19 percent of doctors warned pregnant women about pesticides, only 8 percent about BPA in some plastics and receipts, and only 5 percent warned about phthalates in cosmetics and shampoos. And just FYI, there is a Safe Chemicals Act that has been stalled in Congress for a long time.