Obesogens and the Link to Obesity: What Researchers Believe

(GoHealthier.com) – You might have heard a lot about average body sizes and weights increasing over the last several decades. Several reasons are given for this, including cheap access to fatty food, the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup in the American diet, and lack of time to exercise in the work schedule expected of Americans who sit at desks.

What Are Obesogens?

Obesogens are chemical contributors to weight gain. Obesity has been described as an epidemic, with over 40 percent of Americans falling into the category of obesity. Researchers are working hard to figure out the reason for this continual gain in average size and weight among Americans.

Researchers and doctors are often quick to assign blame when it comes to weight gain: patients aren’t exercising enough, and they’re eating more. While that may be true, there is also a new idea: obesogens.

Obesogens are specifically chemicals that cause changes to hormones and the body’s metabolism. When animals in labs experience exposure to specific substances, for example, they gain weight. This, therefore, could apply to humans.

How Can Obesogens Affect Your Body?

Obesongens affect the body in multiple possible ways, though the research on them is nascent. They are:

  • Changing appetite: When certain hormones exist, you want to eat more. These obesogens specifically impact the hypothalamus, which is the portion of your brain involved in appetite control. The hormones from this area of the brain let you know when you’re in need of food, and when you’re satiated. Chemicals affect this process.
  • Preventing the burning of fat: If we hold onto fat and don’t burn it, it accumulates, making us potentially obese. Obesogens can disrupt the fat cell function so that it doesn’t let go of tat it’s been storing. if your body doesn’t use this fat and convert it into energy, the fat is retained. For some people, reducing food and exercising more doesn’t work. This could be a reason why.
  • Increasing fat cell amounts: More fat cells mean more ability to store fat. Some obesogens maximize the amount of fat cells our bodies produce. These cells can also be even larger than regular fat cells, and this can create weight gain.

Why Study Obesogens?

Researchers study obesogens to help people understand their bodies, create better treatments for weight loss and the prevention of obesity, and to understand the human body’s functions. In many cases, people are exercising more in the United States and eating less food — but they’re still gaining weight. Obesogens may be a factor when it comes to increased weight gain in the population.

Obesogens also tie together multiple specialties normally treated as separate. If you’ve ever been treated for obesity, you’ve no doubt been to nutritionists, physical therapists, endocrinologists, general practitioners, and more, all to treat one aspect of your ‘overeating.’ As this barrage of specialists should indicate, it’s rarely a simple answer: obesity can be tied to hormones and chemicals involved in metabolism, in addition to the diet and exercise we hear so frequently about.

We can be exposed to obesogens in the environment, through waste and pollution, and even in the foods we eat — so it’s critical for this research to continue. By further understanding the human body and what causes it to gain and retain weight, doctors and researchers can create more compassionate, effective plans to help their patients achieve weight loss.

Dozens of obesogens have been isolated and identified. In the coming years, look for more research on how obesogens impact diet, exercise, and your life. While healthy eating and exercise are important and genetics play a role, it’s clear they aren’t everything.

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