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Exploring the Impact of Obesogens On Hormones, Metabolism and Weight

Updated: May 15



Figure 1. Sources of Obesogenic Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). Each chemical class (bold) is shown along with the most common exposure source(s), namely industrial and common consumer products. Note: some EDCs share sources of origin. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, vol. 29, no. 9, Sept. 2018, pp. 607–25.
Figure 1. Sources of Obesogenic Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). Each chemical class (bold) is shown along with the most common exposure source(s), namely industrial and common consumer products. Note: some EDCs share sources of origin. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, vol. 29, no. 9, Sept. 2018, pp. 607–25.

What are Obesogens?


Obesogens are found in many things that you use every day, such as plastic bottles, food containers, toys, cosmetics, and cleaning products. They can get into your body through the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe, or your skin.


Some scientists think that obesogens are one of the reasons why many people are overweight or obese. They say that obesogens can change how your body makes, stores, and uses fat, even if you eat healthy and exercise.


Obesogens are chemicals that may make you gain weight by messing with your hormones and metabolism. Your hormones are substances that your body makes to control many functions, such as growth, mood, hunger, and energy. Your metabolism is how your body uses the food you eat to make energy and store or burn fat.


How can obesogens affect your weight?


Here are some of the ways that obesogens may affect your weight and health:


  • They can make more fat cells. Fat cells are where your body stores extra energy from food. Some obesogens can make your body create more fat cells or make them bigger. This means that you can store more fat in your body and gain weight.

  • They can stop fat burning. Fat burning is when your body uses the stored fat for energy. Some obesogens can prevent your fat cells from releasing the stored fat. This means that you can't use the fat for energy and it stays in your body.

  • They can change your appetite. Your appetite is how hungry or full you feel. Some obesogens can affect a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which controls your appetite. The hypothalamus makes hormones that tell you when to eat and when to stop eating. Some obesogens can make these hormones out of balance, so you may feel hungrier or less full than usual.


What affect do they have on future generations?


Obesogens may also affect future generations. This means that if your mother or grandmother was exposed to obesogens while she was pregnant, they can affect how your metabolism and hormones work too.


Some studies have shown that obesogens can affect your weight and health even before you are born. If your mother is exposed to obesogens while she is pregnant with you, they can change how your metabolism and hormones work when you grow up. This can make you more likely to be overweight or obese or have diseases like diabetes or cancer.


How can you avoid obesogens?


It may be hard to avoid obesogens completely because they are everywhere in our environment. But there are some things you can do to reduce your exposure to them:


  • Avoid plastic bottles and containers that have BPA or phthalates in them. These are two common types of obesogens that can leach into your food or drink. Look for products that say "BPA-free" or "phthalate-free" on the label.

  • Use glass, stainless steel, or ceramic containers to store or heat your food. These materials are safer than plastic because they don't have obesogens in them.

  • Eat organic food as much as possible. Organic food is grown without pesticides or herbicides, which are also types of obesogens that can get into your food.

  • Wash your hands often and use natural or organic cosmetics and personal care products. Obesogens can get into your body through your skin, so it's important to keep it clean and avoid products that have harmful chemicals in them.

  • Avoid smoking or being around people who smoke. Cigarette smoke contains many obesogens that can harm your health.

Obesogens are chemicals that may make you gain weight by messing with your hormones and metabolism. They are found in many everyday products and can affect your health in different ways. You can try to avoid them by choosing safer products and eating organic food.



References:


Veiga-Lopez, Almudena, et al. “Obesogenic Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Identifying Knowledge Gaps.” Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, vol. 29, no. 9, Sept. 2018, pp. 607–25. DOI.org (Crossref), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tem.2018.06.003.

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Heindel, J. J., & Blumberg, B. (2019). Environmental Obesogens: Mechanisms and Controversies. Annual review of pharmacology and toxicology, 59, 89–106. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010818-021304

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Heindel, J. J., Blumberg, B., Cave, M., Machtinger, R., Mantovani, A., Mendez, M. A., Nadal, A., Palanza, P., Panzica, G., Sargis, R., Vandenberg, L. N., & Vom Saal, F. (2017). Metabolism disrupting chemicals and metabolic disorders. Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), 68, 3–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.reprotox.2016.10.001

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Robles-Matos, N., Artis, T., Simmons, R. A., & Bartolomei, M. S. (2021). Environmental Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Influences Genomic Imprinting, Growth, and Metabolism. Genes, 12(8), 1153. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12081153

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Biemann, R., Blüher, M., & Isermann, B. (2021). Exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds such as phthalates and bisphenol A is associated with an increased risk for obesity. Best practice & research. Clinical endocrinology & metabolism, 35(5), 101546. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beem.2021.101546

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Janesick, A. S., & Blumberg, B. (2016). Obesogens: an emerging threat to public health. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 214(5), 559–565. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2016.01.182

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