The Role of Obesogens in Our Obesity Epidemic
After 35 years of practice as a licensed naturopathic doctor, I can tell you that some people cannot just not lose weight. They may have come to it genetically, they may have yo-yo dieted for decades, but the truth remains, they weigh more than they want to and the extra pounds impact many other elements of health and well-being, both physical and psychological.
We used to think it was a mathematical type equation where eating less, plus exercising more, equaled gradual and permanent weight loss. While what you eat and how you move are certainly relevant, scientific understanding of fat metabolism, the physiology of satiety, and the broad effect of a wide range of environmental chemicals on hormones evolves, so too does our understanding and appreciation of many other important, ubiquitous factors at play.
Enter obesogens. Obesogens are chemicals in our food, water, air, household, and personal products and are found in a myriad of forms, at startling rates, throughout our home and outdoor environments. Obesogens are hormone disrupters which means they can alter the creation, secretion, effect, and metabolism of the many hormones that go into overall normal human physiology. Obesogens were first studied for their impact on reproductive systems in the animal world, but as studies multiply, evidence of far-reaching ways obesogens influence health on every system of the body, have become clearer.
Obesogens impact metabolism and weight by changing the way fat cells develop, and by increasing energy storage in fat tissue. They also disrupt the biochemical oversight of appetite and satiety and impact the variety and strength of the microbiome. Robust research into how obesogens impact human health show they influence physiology by acting similarly to innate hormones, by binding to receptors in various parts of fat and other cells. This impacts the way a cell responds or the way a gene in the cell is expressed.
Many of the actions and alterations that obesogens cause are considered to be life-long and more alarmingly, are passed down to the next generation. Women hoping to become pregnant or during pregnancy should take special care to reduce exposures as much as possible, for their potential impact on both fertility and the health of the…