Debunking the Obesogen Theory

“Obesogenic” means “tending to cause obesity” and the new “Obesogen Theory” strikes a new argument against many food goods because there are undisclosed chemicals and additives in those packages that can actually make us gain, and not lose, weight.

Vom Saal believes that BPA is only the most prominent example of many substances in our food supply and environment that functions as an obesogen. “If people really want to solve the obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease epidemics,” he says, “it isn’t a wise thing to be ignoring any contributor to this. And we’re not obese just because of HFCS, or because of BPA. I also know that nicotine and PCBs and other chemicals are implicated in diabetes and metabolic disease as well.” …

Lustig echoes vom Saal’s belief that a wide range of substances in our food supply and our environment are likely leading to obesity and metabolic disease based on hosts of studies of various substances. These include soy-based infant formula, phthalates (used in many plastics), PCBs (found in coolant and electrical equipment), DDE (a type of pesticide), fungicides, and atrazine (a common pesticide).

Here’s what I think about the Obesogen Theory:  Bunk!  We need to stop blaming our environment and other foodstuff additive boogeymen for our weight gain.

We’re fat because we eat too much.  We aren’t fat because we have a slow metabolism, or because we’re “big-boned.”  We gain weight because we continue to overeat and we don’t exercise enough.

If you want to lose weight, don’t look for BPA in your soup can as an impediment — instead look down at your sweatpants for honest inspiration and realize you’re allowing your clothing to fool you and that you are being played by your own dysfunctional self-esteem.

Sure, getting rid of dangerous and hidden chemicals in our processed food chain is a good idea, but we can’t begin to think that just by doing that we will magically become a fit nation of more healthy eaters.  We must work hard together to create the goal of paying down our individual national health debt by being cogent and kind to our bodies again.

6 comments

  • Right on! Eat fewer calories than you burn and watch the weight come off!

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  • Just saying the word “Bunk” dismisses dozens of experts and hundreds of studies around this theory? Really? Yes, we are fat because we eat too much. The question is, Why do we eat too much? Why are we able to consume more food than ever before, and why are we driven to do so? Obesogens lower metabolism (making it harder to burn calories) and inhibit leptin, the satiation hormone that tells us when to stop eating. And any woman who has ever been on The Pill or on HRT knows that estrogen therapy leads to weight gain–in part by stimulating appetite. Well, BPA was originally created in the 1930s as an estrogen replacement; it only later began to be used as a plastics softener and began entering our food supply. Massive quantities of processed soy compounds, which are also estrogenic, only began to be found in our food supply in the 1980s. There’s no magic bogeyman here; we do eat too much. But humans didn’t suddenly become pigs; something has made us less able to manage our appetites. That’s the obesogen theory. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

    • Ah!

      I see you’re selling a weight loss plan based on the Obesogen theory, so I take your comment as a vested-interest-grain-of-salt, and we won’t be posting any more comments from you to help line your pockets because them you become Spammy:

      http://www.menshealth.com/newamdiet/

      If the Obesogen theory were true, we would see universal and predictable weight gains in everyone across every culture. The facts do not support that argument because Race and cultural values do play a role in weight gain as the Surgeon General warns:

      In women, overweight and obesity are higher among members of racial and ethnic minority populations than in non-Hispanic white women.

      In men, Mexican Americans have a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than non-Hispanic whites or non-Hispanic blacks. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in non-Hispanic white men is greater than in non-Hispanic black men.

      69% of non-Hispanic black women are overweight or obese compared to 58% of non-Hispanic black men.

      62% of non-Hispanic white men are overweight or obese compared to 47% of non-Hispanic white women. However, when looking at obesity alone

      (BMI > 30)*, slightly more non-Hispanic white women are obese compared to non-Hispanic white men (23%; 21%).

      For all racial and ethnic groups combined, women of lower socioeconomic status (income < 130 percent of poverty threshold) are approximately 50% more likely to be obese than those of higher socioeconomic status.

      Mexican American boys tend to have a higher prevalence of overweight than non-Hispanic black or non-Hispanic white boys.

      Non-Hispanic black girls tend to have a higher prevalence of overweight than Mexican American or non-Hispanic white girls.

      Non-Hispanic white adolescents from lower income families experience a greater prevalence of overweight than those from higher income families.

      Those facts leave us with one clear conclusion: We gain weight because we eat too much and not because of the chemicals in the processed foods we eat.

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