For decades, the rate of obesity in this country has been increasing, and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. Despite all the advances in this arena, a large percentage of the population remains overweight. You know that genetic factors play a big part in why you gain weight, but what if there are environmental factors (like obesogens) you haven’t considered?
According to the National Library of Medicine, Americans now live in an obesogenic environment. What does this fancy term mean? It simply means it’s easier to gain weight than lose it.
Is it any wonder? If you drive down the street of your city, you will likely lose count of the number of fast-food restaurants around. You live in a society of conveniences, but these amenities have a hefty price tag.
Your health is in jeopardy when you don’t eat a well-balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. While there are some healthy options at your local eatery, it’s easy to opt for the greasy French fries and chocolate shake instead.
The 411 on Obsenogens
You know you need to change your diet, but so many chemicals are pumped into your food that can be causing things like insulin sensitivity. These chemical compounds are called obesogens.
If you’ve never heard this term before, don’t worry, as it’s relatively new. An obesogen is a foreign compound that can upset the metabolism in the body. Anytime the metabolism is disrupted, it can stop weight loss and lead to obesity.
Where Obesogens Come From:
What’s shocking is that you will find these chemicals in many things around your home, and you don’t even know they’re there. These chemicals come in many products, but here are a few they list:
- Plastic food containers
- Non-Stick cookware
- Hygiene products like deodorant
- Cleaning supplies
- Medical supplies
- Canned foods that aren’t BPA-free
The list is vast, and the real problem is that these obesogens leak into the atmosphere. Once you breathe them into your system, they disrupt your endocrine system, and your hormones are off-kilter. How do obesogens promote obesity?
Well, they increase the number of fat cells within the body, and they also increase the storage capacity. Your body will retain fat rather than flush it. When you alter the fat cell production and don’t destroy any, then you gain weight.
Another alarming factor is that it shifts the energy balance within your body and stores your calories rather than burning them. Your body needs several calories to thrive, and these chemicals can mess with your basal metabolic rate. Another scary thought is that chemical compounds in these everyday household items can mess with your gut microbiota.
So the same way your body uses, stores, and eliminates food is disrupted. The gut and brain are connected, and the hormones that trigger signals to tell the brain that you’re full or hungry are disturbed.
Scientists also believe that when a young child is exposed to such chemicals in the formative years, it increases the chances of obesity as they age. Could metabolic syndrome, or the catch-all phrase used by doctors who don’t know why a person gains weight, be caused by obesogens?
Seven Environment Factors That Cause Obesity
It’s effortless to gain weight, and once you get it on your body, it’s challenging to remove it. How can you reach a healthful place and flush your body with the unwanted fat holding you back? Here are some environmental factors that you should consider.
1. Low Socioeconomic Status Contributes to weight gain
You can’t necessarily change your socioeconomic status overnight. However, your money on food may significantly impact your weight. Consider a cheeseburger from a fast-food restaurant. You will likely pay under $2 for this burger.
It’s a quick meal that requires no mess to clean up and fills the stomach for less. How much would buying the stuff and making the burgers healthy at home cost? Purchasing lean grass-fed beef will cost you $7-$8 a pound, but a 70/25 ground beef is only $4-$5.
Someone on a strict budget would have to consider the costs. What about fruit? A box of snack cakes for your child’s lunch is tasty and under $2. Consequently, if you want to pack fresh fruit like strawberries, it can set you back $7 for a pound.
Society cannot afford to eat better, mainly relying on government assistance. According to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a person gets $210.07 a month to eat. Consider trying to feed yourself for $50 a week and eat healthy food.
2. Lack Of Physical Activity
A lack of physical activity is a big part of obesity. You can’t live a healthful life if you’re sedentary. Additionally, children grow up in homes where they watch their parents on electronic devices and do not get exercise, and they develop these habits.
You gain weight when you sit all day long, and the amount of people who don’t get outside and get fresh air is staggering. A study conducted by the CDC in 1997 showed that 40 percent of adults in this country were sedentary. However, the number has increased by over 80 percent since that time. The number of people who don’t make time for physical activity is alarming.
3. The Weather Causes You to Gain Weight
Do rainy days and Mondays mess with your mood? You’re not alone. Many people find that the gray sky causes them to feel blue. Most folks crave comfort foods like mac and cheese or biscuits and gravy when they’re sad. If the weather is particularly gloomy, you might eat for comfort more than hunger.
4. Family Celebrations Center Around Food
Americans love a reason to celebrate anything, and it’s also a good cause to put on a big spread. For your child’s birthday, there’s cake, pizza, chips, soda, and candy bags to take home. This is how a celebration is done, and it’s become ingrained into society that you use food as part of it.
However, you don’t need all that food to honor someone’s birthday. According to Babbel Magazine, they don’t celebrate individual birthdays in Vietnam. Instead, they have one day a year called Tet, where they all get together to commemorate growing older.
Maybe it’s time to change traditions significantly since the rate of obesity isn’t declining.
5. Engineered Junk Foods
There’s nothing wrong with a piece of chocolate cake on occasion. The real problem is that most premade foods are engineered.
Foods that go through a long manufacturing process don’t have refined ingredients mixed with many additives to help preserve them. These methods allow manufacturers to make them inexpensively, and the products have a longer shelf life.
6. Aggressive Marketing
Major companies spend millions of dollars each year on their advertising. Take, for instance, cereal. They focus on children by using cartoon characters, putting prizes in the box, and games on the outside of the carton.
It’s hard to resist them based on the marketing and cute pictures. Have you ever noticed that those sugar cookies in animal shapes are irresistible?
7. Misinformation Can Make You Gain Weight
If you talk to one healthful specialist, they will tell you that you must avoid carbs and eat more protein. Talking to another might say that a plant-based diet is where you will find good health. You may gain weight or lose based on misinformation, as each body has different needs.
The dieting industry is a multi-billion-dollar corporation. Everyone has the latest and most excellent products that promise to help you fight the battle of the bulge. Do you remember the soap that was supposed to wash fat away in the 2000s?
In reality, losing weight is a math equation, and you must reduce your intake to lower your body mass index. You will likely not lose much if you still eat junk food and convenience items. You may find that you gain weight, which isn’t healthful.
Final Thoughts on Environmental Factors, Obesogens, and Gaining Weight
There are so many factors that go into your weight. If you find yourself in the obese category, it’s likely caused by several things. You may have genetic components, obesogens, environmental factors, and a lack of willpower that contribute, but it all comes down to what you put in your mouth each day.
Be careful where you get your advice regarding weight loss. Many will misinterpret the results of scientific studies, and they add their spin on things. The diet industry is a big market, so you must proceed cautiously.
The best thing you can do is to eat healthier, watch your caloric intake, and move your body more. Very few people will gain weight when they incorporate those three things into their lives.