Fast food has always suffered a poor reputation- it is largely considered to be one of the major reasons for the spread of obesity and obesity related health complications. But new findings suggest that fast food may not be the only culprit. Recent research studies have stumbled upon a new possible cause for the appalling incidence of obesity: the presence of obesogens in the foods that we commonly consume. According to Stephen Perrine, author of ‘New American Diet’, obesogens are chemicals and toxins which disrupt the normal functioning of the body’s hormone system and contribute to weight gain and subsequent obesity. While some scientists and researchers are convinced about the dire effects of chemicals in food that make you fat, other researchers are of the opinion that further research is required to substantiate these findings before the Food and Drug Administration starts banning their usage.  

Chemicals In Food That Make You Fat: Is It True?

One of the earliest indications of the existence of chemicals in food that make you fat is found in an article published in the Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine 2002 by Paula Baillie-Hamilton. The article was based on the effects of low-dose chemical exposure on the body weight of experimental animals. Paula Baillie-Hamilton extracted evidence from toxicologic studies from as far back as the 1970s which proved that exposure to chemicals did cause weight gain in animals.

Since the publishing of this article, increasing evidence has been uncovered by researchers and scientists linking the obesity epidemic to exposure to obesogens. According to the National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences, obesogens can be dietary compounds pharmaceutical compounds or industrial compounds that tamper with the natural metabolic processes of the body and lead to weight gain.

Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, a chemical that is used in the manufacturing of food and drink containers, has been classified as one of the chemicals in food that make you fat. Bispheol A has been found to leak into the food that is stored within the containers. This chemical has now been banned from being used in the making of baby bottles. According to a research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and carried out by Dr.Leonardo Trasande, Associate professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, children and teenagers with high levels of BPA in their urine were 2.6 times more likely to be obese even if their dietary habits and physical activity levels were monitored.

Oladele Ogunseitan, Chair of Population Health and Disease Prevention at the University of California Irvine is of the opinion that the Food and Drug Administration should extend the ban on BPA usage to cover all the other ways that it is used in the manufacturing industry.

Other chemicals in food that make you fat, as identified by WebMD include the following:

  1. Hexachlorobenzene (HCB): according to the U.S Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, HCB can be avoided by opting for low fat dairy products and low fat meat products.
  2. Phthalates: Phthalates are largely used in the making of PVC plastics and in personal care products. While purchasing personal care products always read the labels to ensure that phthalates were not used in the manufacturing of the product.
  3. Organotins: according to the U.S Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to organotins can be prevented by avoiding canned foods and beverages as much as possible, and by avoiding seafood from waters that are known to be contaminated with organic tin compounds.
  4. PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid): PFOA exposure can be minimized by substituting teflon pans with cast iron pans, avoiding ‘stain-resistant’ clothing and carpeting, and foregoing pre-packaged foods such as microwavable popcorn.

Chemicals In Food That Make You Fat: Is It All A Hype?

According to the American Chemical Council, the current paranoia surrounding the use of chemicals in food that make you fat is a diversion from the true root causes of widespread obesity. Steven Hentges, the spokesperson for the American Chemical Council explained that the connections drawn between obesity and BPA were only measured after the development of obesity. These findings, according to the Council, cannot be used as an accurate measure for the effects of BPA on obesity.
Charles Santerre, professor of food toxicology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, is of the opinion that the focus should not be on chemicals in food that make you fat. Rather, it should be on the fact that Americans consume more calories than they burn.