Unwanted Weight Gain? 6 Common Household Toxins To Blame

Does this fragrance make me look bigger?

If you’re eating right and exercising — but still battling the bulge — it may not be your little black dress that’s to blame. A group of chemicals called obesogens, may be wreaking havoc on our health and our waistlines.

Obesity is a global epidemic. Today in the US, more than 35% of adults and nearly 17% of children ages 2 to19 years are obese. With health issues ranging from type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, liver disease, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, endocrine issues, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure, it’s more answers — not more Spanx or chemical-laden diet foods — that we need.

There’s increasing evidence that chemical obesogens alter metabolic processes and predispose some people to weight gain, starting as early as the womb. They can promote weight gain by reprogramming cells to become fat cells, decreasing calories burned and disrupting appetite controls in the brain.

In the case of obesogens, the dose doesn’t necessarily make the poison. Studies reveal that some endocrine disruptors have greater effects at low doses. And trace levels of obesogens can be found in everything from plastics, cookware, furnishings, electronics, fabrics, toys and food packaging to air fresheners and household dust.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to exercise these toxins out of your life. Reducing chemical exposures requires awareness and proactivity. Eliminating these six common obesogens from your home is a great first step on the path to a healthier environment.

1. Bisphenol A (BPA)

Used in polycarbonate (#7) plastics, medical devices, in the lining of some canned foods, and in cash register receipts, BPA has been shown to increase insulin resistance and program cells to incorporate more fat. To avoid it, look for stainless steel or glass containers and eat more fresh, organic produce versus canned foods.

2. Phthalates

Phthalates are synthetic chemicals uses to soften PVC plastic (polyvinyl chloride) and are found in everything from toys, lunchboxes, shower curtains, fragrance and air fresheners. They’ve been shown to lower testosterone and metabolism levels, causing weight gain and muscle loss. Avoid plastics with a #3 resin identification code and replace synthetic fragrances with 100% natural essential oil alternatives.

3. Tributyltin (TBT) and Triphenyltin (TPT)

These obesogens preserve wood and act as antifungals in textiles and industrial water systems. Since studies reveal TBT and TPT accumulate in seafood and shellfish, it's best to reduce your fish intake and stick with a plant-based diet.

4. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

PFOAs are used in non-stick and stain-resistance applications – think Teflon, waterproof clothing, stain repellent on carpeting and mattresses, and microwavable food items. Studies reveal that early exposure to PFOA leads to obesity in later life. It also affects thyroid glands, which are important regulators of hormones that control weight. Use cast iron or stainless steel for cooking and glass or earthenware for baking.

5. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

These are used as flame retardants in electronics, furnishings, building materials, and other applications. According to a 2011 UC Berkeley study, PBDEs are found in the blood of up to 97% of Americans and are known to interfere with hormone functioning, particularly thyroid hormones. Look for the new TB117-2013 tag on upholstery for furniture likely made without flame retardant chemicals and buy a mattress made after 2005. Also, invest in organic mattress that uses nontoxic Kevlar or wool as a natural flame retardant.

6. Atrazine

This nasty pesticide slows thyroid hormone metabolism and can be found in tap water. Pesticides have been linked to increased BMI in children and insulin resistance in rodents. Installing a home water filtration is essential to filter out pesticides and other contaminants in your drinking water.

Want to learn more about household toxins and their effect on well-being? Join my free webinar for some more simple solutions to eliminate toxins and improve your health.

Photo courtesy of Jessie Preza

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