By Michael Ormsbee, PhD, Florida State University
Edited by Kate Findley and proofread by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily
Sleep deprivation can lead to multiple health problems and make it difficult to improve body composition. Are you aware, though, that environmental pollutants can lead to similar issues? Professor Ormsbee explains.
What Are Obesogens?
Obesogens are chemicals in the environment that could alter metabolism and cause you to have trouble losing fat. Some examples of obesogens are pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals in plastics, cans, and personal care products—to name a few.
One of the most common obesogens is BPA or bisphenol A, which is found in all types of plastic products such as storage containers and some water bottles. Others are found in some detergents and certain types of flame-retardant materials.
Obesogens are thought to disrupt your endocrine system and affect the number and size of your fat cells and other hormones associated with appetite and satiety. These alterations to the endocrine system might result in fat gain over time.
It makes sense that if you are constantly exposed to these environmental factors early in life, the negative outcomes may be irreversible and make it harder to manage your weight for the rest of your life. We don’t know exactly how much exposure will make some of these compounds active in your body, so according to Professor Ormsbee, it’s best to avoid exposure.
When possible, try filtering water, choosing organic foods, and choosing glassware over plastic when you can. Exposure to pollutants is not a proven cause of metabolic issues leading to poor body composition, but they could possibly be a contributing factor.
Best Methods for You
With many of the outside-the-box methods for ideal body composition mentioned in this article series, the goal is to make small, obtainable changes in your energy intake or expenditure in order to alter the energy balance equation. In some instances, these efforts could help you cut out a couple hundred calories per day or slightly increase your energy expenditure.
Will these help produce significant changes in your body? Potentially, but Professor Ormsbee recommends using these methods to supplement—not replace—your focus on eating quality foods and using proper exercise techniques to change your body composition.
“For example, replacing all the sugar in your diet with low-calorie sweeteners may limit your total calorie intake for the day, but I’d rather you focus on a well-rounded diet that is low in refined sugars and just has natural sugars from things like fruit,” Professor Ormsbee said. “You’ll end up with more nutrient density if you focus on a generally good diet.”
When considering whether or not to incorporate these methods into your nutrition and fitness plan, ask yourself whether or not they work for your body and fit into your lifestyle. Can you stand up more, go for an extra hour of sleep, or add a walk to your lunch break?
Though you should be wary of things that seem too good to be true, don’t be quick to dismiss the non-traditional methods used to make body composition changes. You might just find that something you never thought about helps you reach the results you have been looking for.
Michael Ormsbee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences and Interim Director of the Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine in the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University. He received his MS in Exercise Physiology from South Dakota State University and his PhD in Bioenergetics from East Carolina University.