Obesity is a growing global epidemic. Weight loss is the hot topic as every new support group claims to have the answer. Despite the advances in medical science, increase awareness of diet and exercise, people are getting fatter almost everywhere in the world.
The World Health Organization predicts there will be 2.3 billion overweight adults in the world by 2015 and more than 700 million of them will be obese. Figures for 2005 show 1.6 billion adults were overweight and 400 million were obese.
The industrial countries appear to lead the way in obesity. Obesity, measured with Body Mass Index (BMI) is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters (kg/m2) equal or greater than 30. The increase of convenience foods, labor-saving devices, motorized transport and more sedentary lifestyle have been to blame for why populations are getting fatter, but as I am discovering there is much more to this story!
Calories in and out do not explain how or why our obesity rates in North America have doubled in the last 30 years. It is not only humans that are getting fatter but other animals living in proximity to humans are growing heavier too! What else has changed in the last 30 years that may correspond to these obesity changes?
In 1998, a Scotland medical metabolism specialist motivated by her own inability to lose weight was asking the same questions. After the stubborn weight loss with the birth of her second child, she dug into the metabolic research for answers. Dr. Paula Baillie Hamilton sought to test her hypothesis of whether or not chemicals in the environment could act as fake female hormones, changing metabolism, affecting the endocrine system and sequestering fat in the body.
Study after study showed her hypothesis was correct. She documented her findings in the Nov 2002 Journal of Alternative of Complimentary Medicine, “Chemical toxins: A hypothesis to explain the global Obesity Epidemic”. Environmental chemicals given to laboratory animals did in fact increase weight gain. Most of the studies were developed to investigate the effect of environmental chemicals on cancers in the body but over and over weight gain and obesity were a reoccurring “incidental” finding. Bruce Blumberg a California marine biologist was finding injecting tributyltin- a chemical found in boat rust free paint- was another one of these endorphin disruptor that caused obesity in frogsand other marine life. When given to pregnant female rats, this chemical, even in minute amounts, also increased the weight of the offspring. Retha Newbold- environmental health researcher in North Carolina – found that a synthetic estrogen drug was also causing obesity in her lab rats. Overwhelming research now suggests these manmade chemicals in the environment- coined obesogens- to be a leading factor in the obesity epidemic worldwide. These chemicals are not just found in toxic waste dumps, they are in our homes and everyday life. A chemical like BPA (Bisphenol A) have been banned from baby bottles but are still found in many plastics and on the surface of cash register receipts and tributyltin is a common additive to paints, glues and fillers.
How do we apply this to Atlantic Canada? Since it was cancer research that highlighted these global phenomena, I decided to examine the cancer and obesity rates in Atlantic Canada to further test this theory. There is a correlation- The Atlantic Provinces have the highest rates of certain cancers and greatest obesity.
Dr. Louise Parker is heading a $7-million Atlantic-Canada-wide study to expose the roots of the high cancer rates in this region.
“The Atlantic provinces have the highest rates of cancer in Canada,” says Dr. Parker. “The Atlantic PATH project will help us understand why the rates are so high in the region and, more importantly, to develop strategies which deal with those underlying causes and significantly reduce those rates.”
The geography of cancer is of particular interest to Dr. Parker, who came to Halifax in 2006 from England’s Newcastle University. “In Nova Scotia, there are areas where radon is found in high levels in the ground,” she notes. “There are also areas where arsenic leaches into the groundwater. I’m studying how these exposures affect people’s cancer risk over time.” More than studying, she is also a key member of Nova Scotia’s Advisory Group on Radon. The effects of obesity, alcohol, fast foods and household chemicals are also on Dr. Parker’s radar. “It’s not in our best interests to sit back and see what happens over time,” she says. “As we learn how various factors influence cancer risk, we must influence policy to protect people.”
A 2003 paper prepared by Karen Hayward and Ronald Coleman for Atlantic Regional Office of Health Canada discusses the health of Atlantic Canadians within social and economic factors. Low-income groups such as Aboriginal people, visible minorities, and single mothers and their children consistently have more health challenges than others in the population. They have higher rates of smoking, poor diet, obesity, and physical inactivity, which also are symptoms of deeper underlying social and economic factors. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/canada/regions/atlantic/pdf/Tides_Inequity_and_Chronic_Disease.pdf
In addition to diet, lifestyle and social factors, clearly environmental toxins account for many chronic disease of obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The solution begins with awareness and education. Social reform and public education in continued research to identify these environmental chemicals and lobbing government and regulatory bodies to provide more scrutiny to companies manufacturing chemicals is a global action step. On an individual bases solutions rest within educating the public about ways to reduce the toxins in our homes and finding nutritional programs that provides affordable organic choices with a regular detoxification process.
Today many medical nutritional recommendations are based upon the ‘Canada Food Guide’ that “coincidently” is sponsored by the milk and meat marketing boards. Current new age environments with genetically modified foods, mineral depletion from the soil, presence of pesticides and other environmental toxins, our food source is not what it used to be. New age environment requires new age modifications.
5 Simple New Age Strategies:
- Eat raw and colorfully organic. (especially avoid the microwave and toxic Teflon)
- Supplements, quality protein shakes and sunshine.
- Nutritional cleansing and cellular detoxifying system.
- Reduce the 5 white poisons- dairy, sugar, flour, and fat, salt.
- Filter your water and air.
Disease begins with one cell. Support that one cell with great nutrition, cellular regeneration and detoxification opportunities to re-create a harmonic symphony within the 50 trillion other cells in your body. Connect with me to know which systems I love.
Dr. Dena Churchill does regular internet radio shows, wellness talks and presentations to help you Envision and Achieve Your Best. Check out www.drdenachurchill.com/events or send an invitation for her to come speak to your group or organization firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nature of Things with David Suzuki and the recent global mail article “Are chemicals or Calories making you fat” are other resources to support the obesogen research and this new understanding. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/conditions/obesity/are-chemicals-not-calories-making-us-fat/article2297775/