Here's a list of obesogens identified after a decade of research
A decade of research has identified the presence of 20 chemicals called obesogens in the environment. A look at how some of these chemicals make us fat
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Popularly called ajinomoto, it is a flavour enhancer and widely used in Chinese food, canned vegetables and processed meat.
How it makes one fat: Affects the hunger pathways involving hypothalamus in the brain. It reduces the release of leptin, a hormone that induces satiety feeling and increases food consumption.
Source: Obesity, May 2008
Clozapine: Anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia.
How it makes one fat: It activates enzymes in hypothalamus which lead to higher food intake. It triggers other metabolic changes as well, leading to weight gain.
Source: PNAS, February 2007
Genistein: Found in soy products like milk and baby food.
How it makes one fat: Disrupts endocrine functioning and mimics female sex hormone estrogen, which is involved in fat distribution and causes more fat storage
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2008
Bisphenol A (BPA): Used in plastic and baby bottles and in sealing food cans.
How it makes one fat: BPA affects genes responsible for production of fat cells. It increases both the number and size of fat cells in adults; even pre-natal exposure can lead to fatter babies.
Source: Environment, Epigenetics and Reproduction, May 6, 2012
Arsenic: Chemical present in rocks and soil, percolates into groundwater and accumulates in crops.
How it makes one fat: Targets mitochondria, a cell organelle associated with energy metabolism and slows the process. It is linked to diabetes.
Source: Nutrition, November 1997
Nicotine: An addictive chemical found in tobacco.
How it makes one fat: Prenatal exposure to nicotine smoke induces weight gain in offspring by altering energy metabolism.
Source: Obesity Research, April 2005
Dichloro-diphenyltrichloroethane (DDT): A popular insecticide used to control malaria in developing countries. Enters the food chain through water and soil.
How it makes one fat: Its breakdown product, dde, is an endocrine disruptor and interferes with the activity of estrogen.
Source: Occupational and Environmental Medicine, December 2008
(This article was first published in Body Burden: State of India's Health)
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