Increased weight gain linked with common chemicals

For more than a decade now we have been alerting readers about research findings linking common chemicals in our food/personal care/home care products and increased weight gain. This latest study replicates the findings of earlier studies, showing that increases in weight gain following dieting, especially among women, is linked to common chemical substances called PFASs. These chemicals (known as “obesogens”) are commonplace today and have been found in food packaging and a variety of cosmetic and personal care/home care products. The chemicals have been linked in numerous scientific studies with cancer, hormone disruption, immune dysfunction, high cholesterol, and obesity.


PFASs, chemicals commonly found in environment, may interfere with body weight regulation

A class of chemicals used in many industrial and consumer products was linked with greater weight gain after dieting, particularly among women, according to a new study. The chemicals — perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) — have also been linked with cancer, hormone disruption, immune dysfunction, high cholesterol, and obesity.
Study findings
Study participants who gained the most weight back after dieting had the highest blood concentrations of PFASs, and the link was strongest among women.
The study also found that higher blood levels of PFASs — known as “obesogens” because they may upset body weight regulation — were linked with lower resting metabolic rate (RMR), or slower metabolism after weight loss.  [Metabolism refers to the chemical processes in the body that convert energy from food, commonly known as “burning calories.” People with a lower RMR, or slower metabolism, burn fewer calories during normal daily activities and may have to eat less to avoid becoming overweight.]
“Obesogens have been linked with excess weight gain and obesity in animal models, but human data has been sparse. Now, for the first time, our findings have revealed a novel pathway through which PFASs might interfere with human body weight regulation and thus contribute to the obesity epidemic.”
-Qi Sun, researcher and assistant professor, Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School.
About these chemicals
PFASs have been used for more than 60 years in products ranging from food wrappers to clothing to pots and pans, and studies have shown that they’ve contaminated drinking water near industrial sites, military bases, and wastewater treatment plants. These chemicals can accumulate in drinking water and food chains and persist for a long time in the body.

Journal Reference:  Gang Liu, Klodian Dhana, Jeremy D. Furtado, Jennifer Rood, Geng Zong, Liming Liang, Lu Qi, George A. Bray, Lilian DeJonge, Brent Coull, Philippe Grandjean, Qi Sun. Perfluoroalkyl substances and changes in body weight and resting metabolic rate in response to weight-loss diets: A prospective study. PLOS Medicine, 2018; 15 (2): e1002502 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002502


SOLUTIONS:  To reduce the levels of PFAS in your body, avoid consuming fast food and highly processed foods as these chemicals have consistently been found in the wrappers and packaging of both types.  In addition to preparing your own meals and snacks using fresh, whole ingredients, also consider making your own personal care products when possible, or choosing organic versions over mainstream, commercial products.

In addition to the solutions above, research has shown that getting plenty of fresh air, exercise and proper sleep will help to regulate metabolism and strengthen the body’s ability to maintain healthy weight.