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Obesogens are a class of foreign chemicals

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Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 11:00 am

If you aren’t in the mood for a big, fat rant — skip this article. If you are (most find my ire humorous), sit back and enjoy. Because “obesogens” have me riled up.

Obesogens are a class of foreign chemicals (foreign to the body) thought to disrupt lipid metabolism, satiety, appetite, etc. Studies regularly hit the news regarding various chemicals and their correlation with our ever-increasing waist lines. A recent example is bisphenol-A (BPA) and its association with childhood obesity (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1360865). News outlets went berserk. For a few days THE headline was BPA made kids fat.

You know I had to go look this up. And it caused me to lose a few hours looking up other “obesogen studies” — time flies when you’re following hyperlinks in PubMed.

Granted, I did not read every possible article available, but here’s a quick pattern I noticed: not one of the articles I read said “causation,” “causal,” or “caused.” I read “correlated” or “associated,” but not “caused.” Scientifically, correlated or associated is intriguing — truly it is. But causal is the real humdinger.

Why am I making a big deal out of this? Because I can imagine the reaction to “fat studies” like this — hyper-focus on a chemical rather than regular, everyday focus on reducing total calories. And because it’s just so healthy for us all, a focus on increased physical activity, too.

I’ve worked with lots of folks wanting to drop some pounds. Know what has worked every dang time (including myself)? Reducing the amount of food we were poking down — a good ol’ education about what is a reasonable amount of food for our height, gender, age, and lifestyle. We eventually come to understand that a mega-burger is too flippin’ much… BPA or no BPA. Half a large, super-meaty-meat pizza is too much. That mocha-choco-latte is actually a meal’s worth of calories. And no, we don’t burn 1,000 calories in that workout (no matter what the advertising says)… it’s more like 300-500.

Do I think hormones have power in our bodies? You bet I do. Do I think bodily forces can be at play — causing compulsions so strong you feel like you’re wrestling with the devil? Yep… I’ve gone a few rounds myself — sometimes I lose. And do I think you can get fat on air? No.

Hormones, obesogens, corn syrup — pick a chemical. They play a role in desires, where fat is deposited, and the attractiveness of my couch. But they cannot puff up my thighs from nothing. The food has to go in the mouth first. And it ain’t BPA hauling my butt to the grocery store to buy a dozen cake doughnuts.


• NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her Ahwatukee-based company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals and groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit www.azphysix.com.

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