4 Common Chemical Exposures that are Making Kids Fat

Our kids are overweight

Current stats show that nearly 19% of children between the ages of 2 and 19 measure as obese on the BMI charts used by pediatricians. This is a significant increase in comparison with the mere 5% of obese children reported in 1970.

This epidemic is multi-faceted

There are many reasons behind this gradual, yet continuous growth in overweight children in this country. Some of it is due to larger portion sizes, less access to affordable healthy groceries, and added sugar sources. Add to that the fact that today’s children are more apt to sit in front of a television or gaming device than run and play outdoors; and you can see the recipe for inadequate health disaster.

One more reason

However, what you may not be aware of are the chemicals your children are exposed to–often on a daily basis–that make them more likely to retain body fat, no matter what they eat or how often they move.

Let me inform you

Let me tell you about four of the most common of these chemicals, how your children may be exposed to them, and how you can avoid them.

BPA

BPA-free is no safer

Cause for concern

Most of us know about BPA by now. It is a synthetic form of estrogen commonly found in plastics and a known endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors mess with our hormones, which translates (in part) to “it makes and/or keeps us fat.”

One study found that 93% of us test positive for BPA in our urine.

In response to alarming reports, companies have begun labeling everything “BPA-free” in an attempt to make their products appear safer. Yes, I say “appear safer” because in actuality all they are doing is substituting other chemicals–BPS, in particular–that have also been found to alter our hormones.

Sources

  • Canned food liners
  • Food storage containers
  • Plastic bottles, cups, plates & utensils
  • Plastic cups, plates & utensils
  • Coffeepots & Keurig cups
  • Soda can liners
  • Store receipts
  • Children’s toys
  • Dental sealants

How to Avoid

  1. When purchasing food, your first choice should be fresh or frozen. The heating process involved in canning increases the transfer of bpa from the liner to the food. However, if you do need to select canned, you should either look for Eden Foods brand or rinse the contents well. You should always opt for glass jars when buying tomatoes (other than fresh), since acidic foods promote the leaching of bpa from can linings more aggressively. Tetrapaks are another safe option.
  2. Never reheat your food in plastic. As I mentioned above, high heats are likely to cause the higher transmission of the chemical into your food.
  3. Find ways to store your food without the use of plastics. Mason jars, beeswax wrap, silicone ziploc bagssilicone suction covers are all great alternatives.
  4. Avoid plastic bottles, cups, plates and utensils whenever possible. Choose glass or stainless steel instead. Especially when drinking a hot beverage, like coffee.
  5. When brewing coffee, choose either a glass french press or a stainless steel percolator. Your typical coffeepot contains bpa in its plastic parts where the hot coffee passes through. Keurig cups are another potential source of this chemical.
  6. Don’t consume canned sodas. Even the healthier versions can contain a bpa lining. Opt for glass instead.
  7. Reject paper receipts whenever possible. Yes, they are typically coated in bpa as well. The chemical can then be transported either through the skin or orally into the body. Many stores are offering an email option now.
  8. Instead of plastic toys, look for wooden. This is especially important for the infant/toddler age as they are more apt to mouth them. Reputable brands include Hape and Plan toys.
  9. Talk to your kid’s dentist about composition before agreeing to have their teeth sealed for cavity prevention. Many dental sealants contain bpa.

Phthalates

Ducky is not as kid-friendly as he appears.

Cause for concern

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics and vinyls. They have been known to disrupt the lipid metabolism and even lead to increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Fetal exposure in male animals has been associated with infertility, decreased sperm count, undescended testes, and malformations of the penis and urethra. “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

Sources

  • Makeup & Toiletries
  • Children’s toys
  • Food packaging
  • Animal products
  • Detergents
  • Shower curtains
  • Medical equipment
  • Housing materials, electronics & furnishings

How to avoid

  1. Choose personal products that are labeled “phthalate-free” whenever possible. Here are a blush/liptint and a shampoo/conditioner set to get you started.
  2. Opt for high-quality wooden over plastic when shopping for toys for your kids.
  3. Avoid the use of plastics when storing your food; and if you do use it, remember not to expose it to microwave or dishwasher use. The heat breaks down this material, causing it to leach more chemicals into your food.
  4. Try to eat a more plant-based diet, or at least make more of your animal-based purchases “grass-fed.” Just as we store phthalates in our fat cells from our plastics exposure, so do other fellow mammals.
  5. Use phthalate-free detergent to launder your family’s clothing. Here is a safe option that is also USDA organic.
  6. Select a shower curtain free from phthalates and other chemicals. Because we tend to shower using relatively hot water, these unstable chemicals more readily enter our air and can linger there for weeks while they are inhaled into the bloodstream.
  7. Vacuum, mop and sweep your floors regularly. Your vacuum should include a Hepa filter.Dust particles from phthalate-containing electronics, furnishings and housing materials end up on the floors of your home. Dusting furniture and electronics with a damp cloth is a good idea for the same reasons.

PFOAs

Convenience is rarely good for us

Cause for concern

When exposed to Perfluorooctanaic Acid, or PFOA, mice have been found to develop increased levels of insulin, leptin and body weight. This is on top of many other health issues it has been known to be attributed to.

Unlike BPA and Phthalates, PFOAs which have a relatively short half-life, exiting the body within a few short days; this chemical can linger inside of us for years.

Sources

  • Non-stick cookwares
  • Stain-resistant fabrics & carpeting
  • Food packaging
  • Drinking water

How to avoid

  1. Avoid buying cookware and other kitchen items labeled non-stick whenever possible. Instead of teflon cookware, opt for high-quality stainless steel, cast iron, glass or stoneware.
  2. Skip the stain-resistant and water-resistant clothing, carpeting and other fabrics every chance you get. The convenience is not worth the health risks of taking pfoas in through your nose and skin.
  3. Another reason to not eat fast food. PFOAs can typically be found in fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn. It’s best to pop your own, and not hard.
  4. Consider a Berkey water filtering system. Chemical runoffs from factories, etc have contaminated our sources of drinking water. The Berkey is one of the most effective and affordable systems for filtering out more than 99% of all water-contaminating toxins.
  5. Only eat wild seafood that comes from the bottom of the food chain. Our polluted water sources produce contaminated fish. By limiting your diet to the smaller fish, you are exposing yourself to much fewer chemicals.

Atrazine

Pesticides are the toxin of the countryside

Reason for concern

Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides among U.S. farmers. In multiple studies, this chemical has been found to be linked to weight gain in mice.

Atrazine has been banned in Europe for over a decade because of groundwater contamination.

Sources

  • drinking water, particularly in the Midwest cornfield region

How to avoid

Filter your water. Fortunately, the Berkey will filter Atrazine out as well!

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Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/obesity/obesogens/index.cfm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279464/

https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/phthalates

https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/perfluorooctanoic-acid-pfoa

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-chemicals-that-are-making-you-fat

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