Since 1975, the number of obese individuals worldwide has almost tripled. This alarming statistic from the World Health Organization (WHO) raises questions about the causes.
Over the years, people have pointed fingers at different culprits: our love for fatty foods, our increasing carb consumption, over-processed foods, and even our sedentary lifestyles.
While there have been numerous solutions proposed, such as cutting down on certain food types, the root cause remains elusive.
A Fresh Take on Obesity’s Origin
Dr. Barbara E. Corkey from Boston University offers a new perspective on the issue. She suggests that the cause might not just be in the food we eat, but also in the environment around us.
So, what’s her take? Dr. Corkey believes that specific chemicals, called obesogens, might be interfering with our bodies’ natural signals related to hunger and fat storage.
These obesogens have become more prevalent in our environment over the past half-century.
Here’s a simple way to understand it: Our bodies have built-in mechanisms to manage energy. Some of us, due to our genetic makeup, burn off extra calories more efficiently than others.
Similarly, some of us are better at conserving energy. These differences are natural. But Dr. Corkey thinks that obesogens are messing with these natural processes.
They might be falsely triggering hunger or prompting our bodies to store more fat than necessary.
Interestingly, the rise in obesity coincides with increased consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPF) and potential environmental toxins, such as chemicals from plastics, fertilizers, insecticides, and even air pollution.
Dr. Corkey believes that these might be the obesogens causing our bodies to receive the wrong signals.
Implications and Future Steps
If Dr. Corkey’s hypothesis holds water, the implications are significant. It means that simply adjusting diets might not be enough.
We would need to identify and eliminate these obesogens from our environment, or at the very least, counteract their effects.
There’s a silver lining, though. If this model is correct, it might be a significant step forward in tackling obesity. Dr. Corkey emphasizes the importance of further research to test her model.
The best scenario? We find these obesogens and get rid of them. Even if that’s not entirely feasible, treatments could be developed to block their misleading effects on our bodies.
The battle against obesity is complicated and multifaceted. While it’s essential to maintain a balanced diet and active lifestyle, understanding potential external factors, like obesogens, is crucial.
As science continues to delve deeper into the causes of obesity, one thing becomes clear: tackling this health crisis requires a comprehensive approach, encompassing both our lifestyle choices and the environment we live in.
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The study was published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
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