I was not an obese child, but I always thought I was fat. I spent years battling with my body: counting calories, stepping on scales, drinking diet soda, exercising furiously and then not at all. I was terrified of obesity.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first baby and regularly doing prenatal yoga that I finally experienced the light-bulb moment. My then 50-pound heavier body was powerful. It had a purpose. Yes, I felt better when I was fit, but that didn’t mean I had to lose that power when I wasn’t. And it certainly didn’t mean I was destined for obesity.
Scientists are increasingly looking at the role environmental obesogens play in our battle with obesity. Once I had that realization, fitness was easier.
So it was ironic that when my daughter started gaining weight as a tween, I panicked. I nagged her about what she ate, what she drank, how much she exercised. I couldn’t seem to extend the trust I’d developed in my body to hers.
I was afraid she was going to be fat.
That fear isn’t unwarranted: Childhood obesity is rampant. Statistics now show that one in three American children—and two in three adults—is overweight. But my daughter has an advantage: Low levels of pesticides and canned foods and drinks.
In 2012 a NIH study identified a common pesticide—triflumizole or “TFZ,” sprayed on leafy greens, apples, cherries, strawberries, cucumbers, grapes, watermelons and other crops—as an obesogen.
Recently, a Kaiser Permanente study found links between the BPA lined cans of food and drinks like diet soda and increased risk of obesity for puberty age girls.
What’s an obesogen? Simply put, it’s a chemical that encourages more and larger fat cells to grow, leading to obesity. Scientists are increasingly looking at the role environmental obesogens play in our battle with obesity.
Follow these tips to reduce your children’s exposure to obesogens:
- Avoid BPA.
- Reserve soda and other high fructose corn syrup infused foods and drinks for the most occasional, out-of-the-house treats.
- Follow simple strategies to eat less pesticides.
Maybe it has to do with the good food I give her; maybe it’s just that she’s growing up, but today my daughter is exercising more, conscious—but not crazy—about what she eats, and seems to be developing the kind of trust in her body that it took me decades to discover.
And she’s absolutely beautiful.