Natural Parenting

3 Tips to Avoid Obesogens—And Obesity

Obesity is one of the biggest challenges we parents face. Here are three easy ways to make sure your kids have the advantage against childhood obesity.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:

  1. Avoid BPA.
  2. Reserve soda and other high fructose corn syrup infused foods and drinks for the most occasional, out-of-the-house treats.
  3. 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.


  • Diane

    Thanks for writing this article! I feel exactly the same as you did with your daughter. My daughter is 14 yrs. old and she weighs about 140 and is 5’2″. Recently she has had this fascination with eating junk instead of the healthy food I cook daily. It drives me nuts, so I nag her about the need to eat healthy and limit the unhealthy stuff. We don’t eat meat so I’m always offering her fruits and veggies, she used to be addicted to peanut butter and apple sandwiches, now just the sight of an apple has her running for the door. Lol But this blog has made me realize that it could be much worse, because I buy mostly organic everything, including snacks, so her pesticide intake is well below what it could be! Thanks for this view! =)

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Yes, it is SUCH a struggle. It’s so great that you are presenting such healthy options for her! Thank you for sharing Diane!

  • Kaitlyn

    Thanks for writing this blog!! I struggle with body image myself…afraid of being too heavy if I am not strict about what I choose to eat. I take comfort that I am not alone in this and that you have found a balance. Thanks for sharing your story Rachel!

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