The Most Common Obesogens and How to Avoid Them:
Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Phthalates
Traditionally used worldwide in plastics for food and drink storage, BPA mimics estrogen and has been associated with impaired reproductive function. It’s also an obesogen. A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that BPA causes a biochemical cascade within fat cells that increases inflammation and promotes fat-cell growth.
BPA is used to make microwave popcorn bags, lids of some glass jars of pickles, jellies, salsa, baby food, and more, along with many coffee cans, cooking oil tins, and soda cans. They are also found in thermal paper items including receipts, event and cinema tickets, ATM receipts, and airline tickets.
Also called “plasticizers”, phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. These obesogens are found in dairy products due to the plastic tubing used to milk cows. You’ll also find them in meats, tap water that’s been tainted by industrial waste, and in the pesticides sprayed on conventional fruits and vegetables. They can show up in shampoo, hair spray, deodorant, nail polish, insect repellent, and even your shower curtains.
To avoid BPA and phthalates, you can search the Environmental Working Group’s database to check out what products contain these obesogens. Their searchable database gives you access to 16,000 processed foods and drinks that are packaged in materials containing Phthalates and BPA.
They also have an extensive list of chemical-free skin care products. When you’re out shopping, always look for products labeled “BPA-free” and stay clear of plastic containers with the number 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom. Instead, look for the numbers 2, 4, or 5 recycle code on them, which means they are BPA and phthalate-free. Another proactive step you can take is to buy eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bottles for hot or cold liquids.
After you shop for obesogen-free foods and beverages, it’s time to pay the cashier. When she hands you the receipt, avoid touching it! Instead, have the cashier put the receipt in your bag. If you touch it, be sure and wash your hands. Also, never put a thermal-imaging receipt from a cash register into your wallet because this can contaminate your currency with BPA, making your paper money a secondary source of exposure.