Pin It

Does This House Make Me Look Fat?

by Tiffany in A Green Home

green home

I don’t think it will shock anyone to hear that kids today are “larger” than they used to be. Well, heck adults are too but the fact that so many children are on the obesity radar is scary. We can blame this on many factors such as their SAD (Standard American Diet) which consists of pizza, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and soda pop. We can blame it on the fact modern kids have nature deficit disorder and that they are an inactive, captive audience member of television sets and video game consoles.

But what if there were something else contributing too? Something we can’t see. What if this invisible something was actually messing with their hormones and creating imbalances and fluctuations that could directly effect their growth. What if that cushy couch their little bottom is camped out on all day while they play video games is messing with them on a chemical level? Well, its not such a stretch. There are obesity causing chemicals all around us and all over our homes.

BPA – By now you are likely very familiar with BPA or Bisphenol A. It is essentially a synthetic estrogen found in many items you may have around the house. It can be in your plastic food storage bins, your water bottle, your canned foods, your baby formula, even the binky your kids had as little ones. BPA has been officially linked to obesity and yet it may be lurking in many different places in your home.

And it isn’t alone…

PFOA – According to the same article above, perfluorooctanoic acid has been found to contribute to obesity in mice. PFOAs which can be found in Teflon, Scotchgard, non-stick coatings, and food packages that need to be oil and heat resistant like microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes.

Phthalates – These bad boys are a group of lab chemicals that are widely used as plastic softeners. They make that plastic tub toy more chewable for toddlers… thanks  a lot! They are also used in hairsprays, perfumes, cosmetics, shower curtains, wood finishes, lubricants and much more. A 2005 study released by Environmental Health Perspectives found that pregnant women exposed to common levels of phthalates might have baby boys with reproductive organ abnormalities. This article also explores the relationship between phthalates and abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.

PBDE – Polybrominated diphenylethers or PBDEs are flame retardants that are added to our clothes, furniture, care interiors, electronics, etc is another chemical that is under investigation. A team of researchers at the University of New Hampshire is investigating whether the increasing ubiquity of chemical flame retardants found in foam furniture, carpeting, microwaves and computers might be related to the climbing rate of obesity in the US. Here is a quote:

Tagliaferro, whose research interests concern whole-body energy and metabolism questions, will assess sensitivity of all body tissues to insulin, as well as examine the food intake, body weight changes, and energy metabolism of the rat pups once they are weaned from their mothers. PBDEs, the researchers note, seem to interrupt thyroid hormone levels, which may impact caloric expenditure.

“There’s much more to obesity than eating too much McDonald’s and not exercising,” says Small. “PBDEs may be one of the confounding factors to obesity.”

So what can you do? Well, in addition to making sure our kids are eating well and getting plenty of exercise we also need to make sure we aren’t setting them up for failure by exposing them to massive doses of endocrine disruptors and other hormone mimicking chemicals.

Analyze what you have in your home and research what it may be hiding. Can you find an alternative? Is their some way to make working with what you have just a bit safer? Knowing is half the battle so we are already halfway there. We just need to be on the lookout for safer, greener, cleaner products and demand that corporations that poison us clean up their act. Their is no greater motivation for industry change than a change in the market.

  • keith wilcox

    I had a friend when I was in middle school that was skinny like me, but had man boobs. The doctors couldn’t figure it out and , needless to say, my friend went through a lot of effort to hide it. Well, It turns out is was some chemical he had been consuming and which he was particularly sensitive to. I can’t remember what it was, but it scared the hell out of me for a long time. Me no want man boobs!

  • Maman durable


    Thank you for this very interesting article. I am a French mother and I’m looking at you as toxic as those found in the environment of our children.
    With this kind of informations, we can adopt in our daily actions to reduce exposure to pollutants. We can not change everything but at least it can do it!

  • sheri

    Great article! Ideas: cook popcorn the old fashioned way, on the stove or use a hot air popper, these are safer all the way around. Make pizza dough on the weekends, freeze it in wax paper and bpa-free containers, then thaw it and make your own pizzas. Kids love making pizzas! I know we all have to give in some times so pick what is most vulnerable to you, is it pizza delivery? Then call whoever you buy from ask about their packaging, if it is bad then request they use something else, and ask your friends to do the same. A little polite pressure can go a long way for change.

  • Samantha

    Thanks for all of the writing and research you do on these topics – As a relatively new parent, I really look forward to reading your blog. Have you found any alternative to those bath toys, though? The bath is the one area where, I’m sad to say, we haven’t been able to eradicate plastics.

    • You can find real rubber duckies made of good old-fashioned rubber. We also use small stainless steel bowls for pouring water. Alex Toys makes rubber duck and fish grippers for the tub bottom. Most bath mats are vinyl. Vitafura and Alex are 2 companies to look to for bath mats.

  • Alicia [The Soft Landing]

    I was so intrigued by the title of your article that I had to read it right away – and I’m so glad I did!

    Your admonishment not to set our children up for failure was perfectly spoken. We really do need to take the issue of endocrine disruptors seriously and give our kids the best advantage we can by avoiding them.

  • Lindsey

    THANK YOU for all the time you spend to read over these things and pass them on to us. I am a busy homeschooling mother and don’t have the time to research all the things you put out there for us. I really appreciate you and am blessed to be able to make little changes that make a big difference in our family and recommend them to others!

  • Tammy F

    Thank you so much for your blog. I love, love, love this website and and very glad I stumbled upon it. You are so right, like many others with or without kids who are concerned over the alarming trends of obesity. Not to mention ADD/ADHD, autism, childhood cancer, birth defects, developmental delays, etc which are are quickly increasing. The lack of nature/outdoors and our junk food/fast food diet combined with these toxins are no doubt making our kids and ourselves fat AND sick. When I was young, my friends and I stayed outside from morning until dark most days and ate homecooked meals the vast majority of the time. NONE of us were fat, or sick for that matter. Soda and junkfood was an occasional treat. What a difference today. It’s scary. I have informed myself so much over the last couple of years after having my first child and I make it a point to go back and read sites like this to remind myself WHY I buy organic, grow my own garden, recycle, avoid plastic, PVC, pthlalates, flame retardants, use natural cleaners, filter my water, line dry my clothes, etc. Keep up the good work!