Obesity and Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

26 Jan

 Recent and growing scientific studies in relation to our nation’s obesity epidemic suggest that eating Twinkies and sitting on the couch all weekend are not the only factors that play into America’s enlarging stomach. Scientists are now looking at the effect that endocrine-disrupting chemicals have on people especially to prenatal women and new born babies. I had never heard the term endocrine-disrupting chemicals until I read Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times article “Warnings From a Flabby Mouse”. These new studies suggest that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals leads to the formation of larger and more fat cells in an animal or in this case people. These chemicals are said to be found in a variety of different things like plastic, shampoo, canned goods, foam cushioning, pesticides, and the list continues.

            After recent discussion in class about how society’s views on food policies bounces back and forth throughout history, leaves me to questions the validity of this information and the intentions behind it. Now I’m not saying that the scientific evidence provided in this article is wrong, I am rather suggesting that the conclusions made in these studies are more so sought after rather than truly discovered due to alternate or even unconscious intentions. Kristof uses Bruce Blumberg as a reliable resource to quote for evidence about the new studies relating to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. While this seems to be a trustworthy source I think it’s also important to note that Dr. Blumberg is a developmental biologist and “is a pioneer of the field”. He obviously is going to be his own best advocate for his work and recommend that people limit their exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. If he didn’t his job would suffer and there would be no demand for his field. Whether his intentions stem from pure passion and actually believing in the righteousness of his field versus just trying to make profit is beyond my knowledge.

            In class we looked into the turnover from baking homemade bread to allowing all bread to be industrially processed by machinery. This turnover happened due to convincing advertising that was backed by what turned out to be false scientific evidence about micro bacteria, and a social stigma where if you didn’t buy into the idea that factory bread was better you were seen as being of lower class.

            I do agree with Kristof that the best way to go about these new studies is to look into them more and boost research before creating safety acts and going through congress for regulation. More correlation studies need to be done and tested before the blame of the obesity epidemic can be lifted from our cultures shoulders and dropped onto chemical exposure.  

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