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Stop counting calories and start counting chemicals!

If your body is having to deal with a lot of environmental toxins and chemicals you are more likely to gain weight, the reason for this is to provide a place to store these toxic compounds so that they are not floating in the bloodstream where they can cause disease. Chemicals called “Obesogens” or “endocrine disruptors” alter your metabolism by mimicking your natural hormones causing:

  • an increase in fat cell production
  • an increase in appetite
  • hormonal disruption causing an increase in insulin production

Bruce Blumberg 1, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, coined the term “obesogen,” studies the effect that organotins  (A POP or persistent organic pollutants) have on the body’s metabolism. Organotins, which he considers to be obesogens, “change how your body responds to calories,” he says. “So the ones we study, tributyltin and triphenyltin, actually cause exposed animals to have more and bigger fat cells. The animals that we treat with these chemicals don’t eat a different diet than the ones who don’t get fat. They eat the same diet — we’re not challenging them with a high-fat or a high-carbohydrate diet. They’re eating normal food, and they’re getting fatter.” Listen to an interview with Bruce Blumberg

What are the main obesogens?

Obesogens are found everywhere and most of us will be exposed to them daily, from the food we eat, to the water we drink and everything else inbetween.

  • bisphenol A (BPA)2  – a plastic is one of the highest volume chemicals produced worldwide (6 billion tons produced yearly), found in the production of polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins used to line metal cans, and in many plastic consumer products including toys, water pipes, drinking containers, eyeglass lenses, sports safety equipment, dental monomers, medical equipment and tubing, consumer electronics and even some shopping receipts.
  • Phthalates 3 – are chemicals found in many consumer products such as building materials, household furnishings, clothing, cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, dentures, children’s toys, glow sticks, modelling clay, food packaging, automobiles, lubricants, waxes, cleaning materials and insecticides, three million metric tonnes of phthalates are produced globally
  • POP’s 4– these are a huge class of chemicals, mostly we are exposed through the agricultural industry through the use of pesticides and fungicides, some of which persist even though they are no longer in use such as DDT which was banned 30ys ago.

So how do we avoid obesogens or at least limit our intake?

  • use aluminum water bottles or those that are BPA-free
  • say no to your receipt if you don’t need it
  • never microwave plastic, and keep plastic containers out of the sun and away from heat
  • eat organic and local whenever possible
  • choose grass-fed or pastured meat and poultry
  • limit artificial sweeteners or added colourants
  • limit the amount of canned foods you eat
  • avoid non-stick pans if possible, if you must use make sure you are not scratching the surface and if you do get rid of it
  • Try to avoid buying food that has been cling wrapped and avoid doing this at home
  • make your own air freshener by using essential oils or even better fresh or dried flowers avoid using spray or automatic room fresheners
  • avoid microwavable bagged popcorn
  • choose natural alternatives for cleaning and cosmetics

Whilst everyone’s tolerance for toxins varies, and many studies will show that a certain level of a specific toxin is not a problem, continued exposure to a variety of toxins, has a compounding effect, not only making us more susceptable to weight gain but other chronic disease. We can’t rely on the government or anyone else to protect us, we have to take responsibility for our chemical exposure.

Some helpful resources

Food Additives in NZ 

Chemicals in Food Packaging

Food Babe

What’s really in our Food NZ

Detoxing or cleansing has been shown to greatly enhance the bodies ability to remove toxins and should be done on a regular basis, Vitalise Health will be running a mid winter cleanse starting on the 31st May 2015, for 21 days,  signup will be available from the 14th May.


1. Grün, F. & Blumberg, B.(2009). Minireview: The case for obesogens. Molecular Endocrinology, 23(8), 1127-1134.

2. Vandenberg, L. N., Hauser, R., Marcus, M., Olea, N., & Welshons, W. V. (2007). Human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA). Reproductive Toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), 24(2), 139-177.

3. Schettler, T. (2006). Human exposure to phthalates via consumer products. International Journal Of Andrology, 29(1), 134-139.

4. Jones, K. C., & de Voogt, P. (1999). Persistent organic pollutants (POPs): state of the science. Environmental Pollution (Barking, Essex: 1987), 100(1-3), 209-221.

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