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Obesity is on the rise at alarming rates in Canada and the US. According to the CDC, obesity rates in the US have more than doubled since 1980. And in Canada, 1 in 4 adults are obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. For example, a female who is 5’7″, and 48 years old should aim to weigh no more than 165 pounds.

Being overweight has been linked to a number of lifestyle conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes. It contributes to diabetes because it causes insulin resistance. When your cells become resistant to insulin, it means that your body can’t use this hormone effectively to lower blood sugar levels. This often leads to type 2 diabetes.

There are many factors that can contribute to obesity, including lifestyle choices, genetics, and medical conditions. But there are also some less common reasons that may be playing a role in the obesity epidemic.

Here are 6 surprising links to obesity:

  1. GMO s:

    Genetically modified foods have only been around since the 1990s, but they’ve become increasingly common in our food supply. GMO crops are designed to be resistant to herbicides and pests. This means that farmers can use more chemicals on them without harming the plants.

    But there’s concern that these same chemicals may be harming us. One study found that rats who were fed GMO corn suffered from serious organ damage, including kidney and liver failure. And animals who consumed GMO corn products gained weight and body fat over time. The reasons could be related to an increase in inflammation and changes in the gut flora.

    One way to avoid GMO foods is to buy Organic.

  2. Aspartame:

    This artificial sweetener is found in many diet foods, including sodas and chewing gum. Although it doesn’t contain any calories or carbohydrates, aspartame has been linked to weight gain. One study found that people who drank artificially sweetened beverages had a higher risk of gaining weight over time.

    The study showed that aspartame may interfere with gut microbiota, leading to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. In addition, aspartame can increase hunger and make you crave sugary foods. Why? It appears to stimulate the release of certain brain chemicals that can increase appetite and it’s also been shown to disrupt hypothalamic signaling. This means that aspartame can interfere with the part of your brain that regulates hunger and satiety signals.

  3. Sleep:

    The average adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but studies show that more than 30% aren’t getting enough rest. Sleep deprivation is linked to a number of negative health effects, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Losing just one hour of sleep can raise your risk of obesity by 17%. Researchers believe that this may be due to the way lack of sleep interferes with hormones that control appetite.

    When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone” because it signals to your brain that you’re hungry, leading to cravings for high-calorie foods.

  4. Air pollution:

    There’s growing evidence that air pollution may be playing a role in obesity rates. One study found an association between high levels of fine particulate matter in the atmosphere and increased body mass index (BMI). Other research showed that kids who lived in highly polluted areas were more likely to be obese due to changes in their fat cells caused by exposure to the pollutants.

    Studies suggest that exposure to particulate matter can disrupt the endocrine system and cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which leads to insulin resistance and fat cell growth.

  5. Medications:

    Several medications can lead to weight gain as a side effect, including some antidepressants, seizure medications, and diabetes drugs. One study showed that obese people taking prescription medications had a 30% higher risk of being overweight than those who didn’t take any drugs.

    Some researchers say that certain medications can interfere with gut hormones. Others suggest that some meds may contribute to weight gain by slowing metabolism or increasing cortisol levels in the body.

  6. PFOA:

    This is a man-made chemical that’s used in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware like Teflon, food packaging, and stain-resistant carpets. PFOA has been linked to obesity in animals and humans. One study found that rats exposed to PFOA gained more weight and body fat than those who weren’t.

    Some research has linked PFOA to weight gain possibly because of its ability to interfere with enzymes in the thyroid and liver, which can disrupt metabolism. And, it’s been found that people with higher PFOA levels in their blood are more likely to be obese.

In conclusion, while obesity has traditionally been thought of as a lifestyle disease, there are a number of other factors that can contribute to weight gain especially when certain chemicals are involved that cause hormonal disruptions, changes in metabolism, and increased appetite.

By being aware of these surprising links to obesity, we can be better equipped to prevent weight gain and live a healthier lifestyle overall.

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