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Chemical pollution in the environment is supersizing the global obesity epidemic, according to a major scientific review.
The idea that the toxins called “obesogens” can affect how the body controls weight is not yet part of mainstream medicine. But the dozens of scientists behind the review argue that the evidence is now so strong that it should be. “This is critical because the current clinical management of obese patients is woefully inadequate,” they said.
The most disturbing aspect of the evidence is that some chemical impacts that increase weight can be passed down through generations by changing how genes work. Pollutants cited by the researchers as increasing obesity include bisphenol A (BPA), which is widely added to plastics, as well as some pesticides, flame retardants and air pollution.
The evidence for obesogens is set out by more than 40 scientists in three review papers, published in the peer-reviewed journal Biochemical Pharmacology and citing 1,400 studies. They say these chemicals are everywhere: in water and dust, food packaging, personal hygiene products and household cleaners, furniture and electronics.
Other obesogens are pesticides, including DDT and tributyltin, former flame retardants and their newer replacements, dioxins and PCBs, and air pollution. Several recent studies link exposure to dirty air early in life to obesity.
For more information, see this article in the Guardian.