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Commonly-used pesticide linked to the global obesity epidemic

Commonly-used pesticide linked to the global obesity epidemic

Studies show that some commonly used pesticides like Chlorpyrifos can induce obesity in human beings and animals. Scientists at McMaster University carried out this study. It can lead to a global obesity epidemic, and such pesticides should be banned and prohibited from being used on any fruits and vegetables consumed by human beings.

About the research

The research says that the pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables to keep them safe from insects can be harmful for human consumption. Therefore, a test was conducted on mice in which they were fed high-calorie diets with Chlorpyrifos. Thirty-four different herbicides and pesticides were tested during the research.

According to the study, several environmental toxins, such as Chlorpyrifos, have been associated with higher obesity in both animals and people. Most of this research has attributed weight gain to increased food consumption rather than calorie burning. Obesity causes 4.7 million early deaths each year, according to the data. The problem is likewise well-known for causing other severe diseases like diabetes, strokes, and even cancer.

The observations were as follows:

  • It slows down the burning of calories in brown adipose tissues in mouse 
  • This slowing down process leads to a condition called thermogenesis, which stores the extra fat, causing obesity.

What is Chlorpyrifos?

It is a pesticide used in agricultural and non-agricultural areas. It causes the food to get adulterated, and such food is not allowed to be sold under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). However, it can be used for non-agricultural uses. Usually, a pesticide is only allowed to be distributed if it doesn’t have adverse health effects on humans and animals. Read label directions for further clarification upon use.

How can pesticides cause obesity?

Over testing a group of mice with Chlorpyrifos in their food, it was observed that the gut barrier that helps the stomach digest food is broken down, which lets the toxins into their bodies, accumulate the fats and hence cause obesity. The gut barrier or Gut microbiota’s function is that gut bacteria facilitate the fermentation of non-digestible substrates such as food fibers. This fermentation aids the growth of particular microorganisms that create short-chain fatty acids and gases. This process develops insulin resistance which in turn aids in the inducement of diabetes in individuals. 

This similar chain of events was observed in mice, and therefore it was concluded that such pesticides could give rise to a global obesity epidemic.

The senior author of the study is Gregory Steinberg, co-director of the Centre for Metabolism, Obesity, and Diabetes Research and a professor of medicine at McMaster University, made the following remarks on the study:

“Brown fat is the metabolic furnace in our body, burning calories, unlike normal fat that is used to store them. This produces heat and prevents calories from being stored as typical white fat on our bodies. In addition, brown fat is known to be activated in the cold and when we eat.” 

What other factors cause obesity?

Being overweight or having gained a lot of weight than average BMI is known as obesity. There can be several factors that influence or cause obesity. Among those, some of them are listed below.

  • Genes can play a part: although not significant, genes can play a role in causing obesity. It can or cannot be hereditary. It puts you at risk of gaining weight, but you can counter it by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
  • Influences during pregnancy and afterward: Mothers who gain weight during pregnancy or smoke make their children susceptible to obesity.
  • Irregular, unhealthy dietary habits: eating a lot of junk food regularly, skipping meals, eating large portions of feed at once, or overeating in one sitting can lead to rapid weight gain. Also, if you do not include healthy vegetables, whole grains, or other fibers and minerals in your diet, you are at risk of obesity.
  • Lethargic lifestyle: continued inactivity and excess sleep are also the reasons for obesity. On the other hand, lack of sleep also contributes to weight gain. Watching television for long hours while consuming beverages and snacks also counts in this category.
  • Environmental factors: apart from individual’s food and activity choices, obesity is also caused by the environment we live in. Unfortunately, we breathe in a toxic atmosphere covered with dangerous toxins and various health hazardous chemicals. The availability and easy accessibility of unhealthy food also plays a massive role in the growing global obesity epidemic.

Measures to eradicate

Pesticides’ implications on our health are still being studied, but they are widely used even then. We can adopt several measures to put an end to or at least control this global obesity epidemic from spreading:

Fruit and vegetables grown organically and locally are best

To ensure pesticide-free products, we have an option of buying fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and are organic. Look at the small label on the fruit to see if it was cultivated organically; the number should be five digits long and begin with “9.” Although it is a long-term plan, you can also grow some vegetables and fruits in your own home and get the safest healthy products on the go.

Thoroughly wash before eating

When fruits or vegetables are brought from the market, wash them before putting them away into the refrigerator. Most of the time, they get rotten if not cleaned and kept properly. For this purpose, some washes are also available at the market to adequately wash away the product’s pesticides. But, again, rinse with lukewarm water for best results.

Have knowledge about the amount of pesticide on different fruits/vegetables

Pesticide residues on food are confined to a specific number of fruits and vegetables, which pose most health hazards. Therefore, you can take necessary precautions, such as washing the food more thoroughly, removing the skin on some fruits, or avoiding industrial suppliers, if you know which fruits and vegetables represent the most significant risk. 

Develop a kitchen garden 

A kitchen garden may offer much of the veggies needed for a household of four or six. Pesticide and chemical fertilizers can be replaced with organic ways, and gardening is healthy for kids. Perennial crops such as strawberries, asparagus, and blueberries will offer yields for years with minimal effort. But, of course, even homegrown vegetables should be stored properly.

Use non-toxic chemicals for home and garden

Commercial pesticides and insecticides used in our homes to kill insects do more harm than the insects they are supposed to kill. Therefore, it is recommended to adopt other measures to kill insects rather than pest control chemicals on the first go. In addition, look for the health hazards of such products before using them, such as traps, barriers, or other non-chemical products.

Other measures

Other measures for eradication can be adopting a no-shoe policy inside your home for yourself, guests and visitors. This policy aims to reduce or avoid the chemicals from the outside that stick to the shoes.

These residues can linger for years in carpeting and on floor surfaces in some cases.

This risk is reduced, and your cleaning duties are reduced by simply leaving shoes at the entrance. In addition, you can supply cheap house slippers for guests who aren’t used to going shoeless indoors.

Obesity also paves the way for social and health implications. For instance, according to studies, girls are more susceptible to this disease than boys. In addition, obesity stigma has been linked to severe physiological and psychological effects, including increased sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem. It can also result in disordered eating, a lack of physical exercise, and a refusal to seek medical help.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

As compared to adults, children are more exposed to pesticides, as their eating habits are more irregular. Eating healthy always starts at home, what you make your children eat, they will get used to that diet. 

  • Make sure to include healthy but tasty food on your dinner and lunch tables.
  • Feed appropriate food portions to them on fixed timing so that they are not inclined to eating junk food when they feel hungry.
  • Encourage them to eat vegetables and fruits from an early age.
  • Teach them to chew slowly for better digestion and try not to develop a habit of eating even when you are not hungry as the body stores this extra food as fat, leading to obesity.
  • Introduce healthy and fun physical activities for your child instead of giving them a tablet or laptop to play with and reduce screen time. Physical activities may include plays or outdoor activities such as swimming and other games that your children enjoy.


The following conclusion was made in the research:

Unfortunately, exercise and diet-related lifestyle changes seldom result in long-term weight loss. Part of the problem, we believe, is Chlorpyrifos’ inherent slowing down of the metabolic furnace. 

The distribution and selling of toxic chemicals like Chlorpyrifos are banned in Canada. Measures should be taken to restrict or ban its use altogether in other countries as well. Some manufacturers or farmers claim that they are necessary for keeping the food fresh and away from insects, but it has been proven, adverse health effects on humans and animals are not a good trade-off.

Written by HealthRadar360

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