Q & A - Can Toxins Cause Weight Gain?

A high fat diet and lack of exercise are well known causes of obesity. But a growing body of evidence also suggests that some toxins cause weight gain.

These toxins, called obesogens, are chemicals that cause weight gain and obesity by messing with your fat cells and your hormones. Many are also endocrine disrupters.

Because fat cells act much like an endocrine organ, releasing hormones related to your appetite and metabolism, they are prime targets for endocrine disrupting toxins.

Obesogens are thought to cause obesity by:

  • Affecting the number of fat cells
  • Affecting the size of fat cells
  • Affecting the hormones that influence appetite, food preferences and energy metabolism
  • Causing epigenetic changes (modifications to DNA) that are passed to future generations

Obesogen Toxins

There are approximately 100 chemicals linked to increased body weight. The following chemicals have received a lot of attention as obesogens.

  • BPA - used to make plastics andepoxy coatings that line cans.
  • PFCs - used to make stain-resistant and stick-resistant coatings.
  • Phthalates – used to make plastics and personal care products.
  • Organophosphate insecticides - are phosphorus-based compounds that kill insects by affecting the nervous system

Besides adulthood exposures, the obesogen toxins your mother was exposed to while pregnant may also cause you to be overweight as an adult. According to Dr. Blumberg, who coined the term obesogen, “the effects of early-life exposure are irreversible, and those people will fight a life-long battle of the bulge”

But he believes that, “if such people reduce their exposure to obesogens, they will also reduce health effects that may arise from ongoing adulthood exposures.” Obesogens, An Environmental Link to Obesity (EHP 2012).

So avoiding obesogens throughout your life is an important way to maintain a healthy weight. For the complete guide to protecting yourself and your family from the toxins that cause weight gain, check out my ebook Sabatoging Skinny.

Check out this post to learn more about how toxic chemicals are linked to obesity.