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.
Monday, December 14th, 2009