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Laura Dolson

Yet Another Possible Cause of Obesity

By January 27, 2013

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plastic-wrappedWhat has caused the obesity epidemic? There are so many possibilities that have some evidence that it is almost certainly many things, potentially creating a "perfect storm" scenario. One of the areas that I have been keeping my eye on is environmental toxins, particularly so-called "endocrine disruptors" such as BPA and phthalates. These substances are primarily found in plastics, but plastics are found basically everywhere, including in almost everything touched by food: many plastic bottles, the linings of cans, plastic wrap, butcher paper that meat is wrapped in, and many plastic food storage containers. Add to that children's toys, cosmetics, building materials, the coating of pills -- the list is frighteningly long. (Certain phthalates were banned from children's toys in the U.S. several years ago, but toys manufactured before that time were allowed to be sold. And phthalates and other endocrine disruptors have not been banned from anything else in the U.S., although some other countries have been more pro-active.)

What does this have to do with obesity? Maybe a lot. There is growing evidence that exposure to these chemicals could influence the body to store more fat. Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times recently reported on this in his column ("Warnings From a Flabby Mouse"). The most recent alarming result was in mice, where even a short exposure at birth led to fatter mice, even when the mice were fed the same amount of food. Kristoff reports, "The role of these chemicals has been acknowledged by the presidential task force on childhood obesity, and the National Institutes of Health has become a major funder of research on links between endocrine disruptors and both obesity and diabetes." Also, apparently, (just like the tobacco and sugar industries), the makers of these chemicals have been doing their darndest to prevent good research from being done in this area.

This also brings focus to another debate in the obesity research community -- is the obesity epidemic a result of a problem of over-consumption (i.e. something is making us hungrier; there's a defect in the appetite system) or a result of a problem of a defect in fat accumulation (more fat leads us to eat more to support our larger bodies). This research seems to lean towards the latter.

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January 28, 2013 at 9:02 am
(1) Scoob E Doo says:

Quite to the contrary of what Ms Dolson states, there is more research and study of one phthalate, DEHP, than almost any other single chemical entity in history. DEHP is and has been used extensively for about 60 years in myriad applications. It is important to note that our FDA was evaluated DEHP a few times in its history and still cannot come up with a reason to restrict it in our nation’s blood bags and other medical tubing, IV bags, etc., except for neonates and other higher risk populations due to the “unknowns”. And while DEHP is only one phthalate, it is the highest volume example in the last 60 years. I will also note here that all substances have “unknowns” because that’s how science works. We’ll never know all of the effects of any one thing because science cannot prove such.

Industry, contrary to what Ms Dolson stated, has performed obscene numbers of studies looking for risks associated with phthalates, especially over the last 15 years And contrary to just about everyone’s belief, no adverse effects are being hidden so they can continue to sell a poison that will kill all of us. It just isn’t true. Industry is made up of actual people, with actual families, and no one wants to continue to sell anything dangerous to themselves and their own families.

January 28, 2013 at 9:02 am
(2) Scoob E Doo says:

All that said, there are alternatives to replace DEHP and other phthalates that have been developed and sold for over 30 years. Those alternatives hadn’t gotten much traction until the last 10-15 years because there was no compelling reason to switch – the scientific evidence for any adverse effects is tenuous at best even today. All of the “associations” and “links” reported in the news are speculative and related to how the authors of those studies designed their experiments. But that doesn’t stop the press releases and the scare tactics from the “green” groups from trying to prove that we’re all going to die unless…

The same is the case for BPA – still nothing concrete about it having any adverse effects, but the European regulatory agencies’ “precautionary principle” approach has led to momentum against anything caught in its crosshairs. What we’re seeing now is the trickle-down effects from those efforts over the last 15 years and all it serves to do is cause panic and offer scapegoats.

So my request is for the author and future readers of this piece to do a little homework with reputable and authoritative sources before deciding that anything and everything not “natural” will kill you and those evil companies in XYZ industry are out to kill you to make a profit. It simply isn’t true.

January 28, 2013 at 11:07 am
(3) Disgusted. says:

The same plastics are used in Europe as they are in America..
The weight issues are inconsistent between the 2 cultures.
As usual, we North Americans are not able to accept the blame for anything. I was at the Mall of America today, where I witnessed an obese mom, with 3 obese children, and one grossly obese child, who had an Ice cream cone with 3 scoops perched on it., he could barely balance it, because there was a plastic bag of cotton candy strapped to his wrist. Before he was able to walk past the storefront, he had bitten off the entire top scoop. He wasn’t licking the cone, he was eating it.
But I’m sure this could not be his fault. Nor the fault of his fat mother who was busy chowing down on her own cone, It must have been the plastic on the bag that the candy floss was in. Thats it!

No America……No. The cause of obesity in America is Over-Eating. Nothing else.
Stop it.

January 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm
(4) Bluebell says:

Has anyone read any prepared food labels lately? You will be hard pressed to find anything which doesn’t have sugar, in one form or another, in it. Almost all prepared food, sausages, and food mixes have some form of sugar added. And not just one kind but sometimes multiple forms of sugar in the same product. Add to this the high carbohydrate counts from many forms of pasta in prepared foods and its no wonder weight gain is so wide spread.

I had to start eating low-carb in order to control my Type II diabetes and this has meant cutting out most prepared foods and food mixes. I have lost 65 pounds following this eating plan and have managed to control my sugar count and keep the pounds off for quite a few years. As I look back at what I used to eat (low calorie/low fat) I’m shocked at just what I was ingesting.

January 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm
(5) Richard Earl says:

I’m with Bluebell. I too discovered the “lo carb” melody a year or two ago and have been singing from the same songsheet ever since.

After a lifetime on the usual “western” diet, which often included stops at burger joints for a quick lunch, outings to pizza parlors and steak houses for evening meals, copious amounts of pies, fries, cakes, donuts, potatoes in every form swimming in nice rich gravies, etc. etc. This was NORMAL eating as far as I knew.

I also assumed it was NORMAL to require TUMS and other antacids after every meal to cool down the burning, to “enjoy” the rising blood pressure as I aged, and to laugh off the ever expanding weight and waistline (once they went past 240 lbs and 48 inches consecutively.

I finally discovered “lo carb.” The short of it is… haven’t required an antacid in over a year, BP has dropped 20 points, 80 lbs of flab has simply melted away and the measuring tape around the waist now reads 36 inches. Will power? Not a bit. I simply lost the agony of being hungry all the time. The rest just came naturally.

SUGAR (at least in the quantities in the average “western” diet) is POISON. If you remember nothing else, remember that.

January 29, 2013 at 2:39 am
(6) Nell says:

To Disgusted: don’t believe that the Europeans are thinner. I’ve lived in Europe for 16 years now. Most of what Americans believe about Europe is just not true. Official European records reveil that Germans are some of the fattest people in the world. The difference with all this is that we Americans quite happily report on every statistic (both good and bad) about ourselves, while most of the rest of the world tries to hide theirs.

I have lived in Eastern Europe since ’97 (Bulgaria). Communist-bloc countries had access to far less plastic and packaging than the west did. In the early days, we bought bread that was completely unpackaged and was handed to us that way. Very few things were packaged and most canned items were actually sold in jars. Eastern Europeans in those days were very thin, but they are not anymore. Bulgarians, particularly men, are now some of the fattest people in Europe according to their own news reporting on official EU statistics.

None of this has to do with the amount of food they eat–they’ve always had plenty of food, just not great variety. Now they have plenty of vegetables and fruit, along with all the healthy habits of a Mediterranean diet and they are twice the size they used to be. One has to wonder why.

February 2, 2013 at 12:02 am
(7) RDM says:

I believe that the first few comments on this thread are actually from professional shills for the plastics industries–paid PR consultants sent here to cover up the dangerous effects of plastics to our bodies as well as the environment.

February 4, 2013 at 8:00 am
(8) aluna says:

I have done my own study on obesity accidentally. I went to Honduras (central America) my 1st visit 13 yrs ago. Could not find an obese person. Last year I went back and could not believe what I saw – overweight people everywhere. The differences 13 yrs ago none of the food was pre-packaged or processed. Everything they ate was fresh. Last visit – the kids are all eating junk food – candy, donuts, soda, and fast food restaurants were everwhere.

They are making the same mistakes we Americans did. The faster you can get food the better! Sound familiar?

February 14, 2013 at 7:48 am
(9) Doris says:

In my opinion, the reason we are all fat and sick is all the antibiotics and growth hormones that are fed to and shot into the animals we eat. Also all the chemicals that are used in the ground and on the crops to kill weeds and/or bugs. It’s the trickle down theory……..think about it~!!

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