The REAL Cause of the Global Obesity Epidemic

George Washington's picture

By Washington's Blog

World Wide Obesity Epidemic

Some 68% of all Americans are overweight, and obesity has almost doubled in the last couple of decades worldwide. As International Business Tribune reports:

Studies conducted jointly by researchers at Imperial College London and Harvard University, published in the medical journal The Lancet, show that obesity worldwide almost doubled in the decades between 1980 and 2008.




68 per cent of Americans were found to be overweight while close to 34 percent were obese.

Sure, people are eating too much and exercising too little. The processed foods and refined flours and sugars don’t help. And additives like high fructose corn syrup – which are added to many processed foods – are stuffing us with empty calories.

But given that there is an epidemic of obesity even in 6 month old infants (see below), there is clearly something else going on as well.

Are Toxic Chemicals Making Us Fat?

The toxins all around us might be making us fat.

As the Washington Post reported in 2007:

Several recent animal studies suggest that environmental exposure to widely used chemicals may also help make people fat.


The evidence is preliminary, but a number of researchers are pursuing indications that the chemicals, which have been shown to cause abnormal changes in animals’ sexual development, can also trigger fat-cell activity — a process scientists call adipogenesis.


The chemicals under scrutiny are used in products from marine paints and pesticides to food and beverage containers. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one chemical, bisphenol A, in 95 percent of the people tested, at levels at or above those that affected development in animals.


These findings were presented at last month’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A spokesman for the chemical industry later dismissed the concerns, but Jerry Heindel, a top official of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), who chaired the AAAS session, said the suspected link between obesity and exposure to “endocrine disrupters,” as the chemicals are called because of their hormone-like effects, is “plausible and possible.”


Bruce Blumberg, a developmental and cell biologist at the University of California at Irvine, one of those presenting research at the meeting, called them “obesogens” — chemicals that promote obesity.




Exposed mice became obese adults and remained obese even on reduced calorie and increased exercise regimes. Like tributyltin, DES appeared to permanently disrupt the hormonal mechanisms regulating body weight.


“Once these genetic changes happen in utero, they are irreversible and with the individual for life,” Newbold said.




“Exposure to bisphenol A is continuous,” said Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Bisphenol A is an ingredient in polycarbonate plastics used in many products, including refillable water containers and baby bottles, and in epoxy resins that line the inside of food cans and are used as dental sealants. [It is also added to store receipts.] In 2003, U.S. industry consumed about 2 billion pounds of bisphenol A.


Researchers have studied bisphenol A’s effects on estrogen function for more than a decade. Vom Saal’s research indicates that developmental exposure to low doses of bisphenol A activates genetic mechanisms that promote fat-cell activity. “These in-utero effects are lifetime effects, and they occur at phenomenally small levels” of exposure, vom Saal said.




Research into the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on obesity has been done only in laboratory animals, but the genetic receptors that control fat cell activity are functionally identical across species. “They work virtually the same way in fish as they do in rodents and humans,” Blumberg said. “Fat cells are an endocrine organ.”


Ongoing studies are monitoring human levels of bisphenol A, but none have been done of tributyltin, which has been used since the 1960s and is persistent in the marine food web. “Tributyltin is the only endocrine disrupting chemical that has been shown without substantial argument to have an effect at levels at which it’s found in the environment,” Blumberg said.


Concern over tributyltin’s reproductive effects on marine animals has resulted in an international agreement discontinuing its use in anti-fouling paints used on ships. The EPA has said it plans next year to assess its other applications, including as an antimicrobial agent in livestock operations, fish hatcheries and hospitals.


Bisphenol A is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in consumer products, and the agency says the amount of bisphenol A or tributyltin that might leach from products is too low to be of concern. But the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, is reviewing bisphenol A, and concerns about its estrogenic effects prompted California legislators to propose banning it from certain products sold in-state, a move industry has fought vigorously.

Similarly, the Daily Beast noted in 2010:

{Bad habits] cannot explain the ballooning of one particular segment of the population, a segment that doesn’t go to movies, can’t chew, and was never that much into exercise: babies. In 2006 scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that the prevalence of obesity in infants under 6 months had risen 73 percent since 1980. “This epidemic of obese 6-month-olds,” as endocrinologist Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, calls it, poses a problem for conventional explanations of the fattening of America. “Since they’re eating only formula or breast milk, and never exactly got a lot of exercise, the obvious explanations for obesity don’t work for babies,” he points out. “You have to look beyond the obvious.”


The search for the non-obvious has led to a familiar villain: early-life exposure to traces of chemicals in the environment. Evidence has been steadily accumulating that certain hormone-mimicking pollutants, ubiquitous in the food chain, have two previously unsuspected effects. They act on genes in the developing fetus and newborn to turn more precursor cells into fat cells, which stay with you for life. And they may alter metabolic rate, so that the body hoards calories rather than burning them, like a physiological Scrooge. “The evidence now emerging says that being overweight is not just the result of personal choices about what you eat, combined with inactivity,” says Retha Newbold of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in North Carolina, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Exposure to environmental chemicals during development may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.” They are not the cause of extra pounds in every person who is overweight—for older adults, who were less likely to be exposed to so many of the compounds before birth, the standard explanations of genetics and lifestyle probably suffice—but environmental chemicals may well account for a good part of the current epidemic, especially in those under 50. And at the individual level, exposure to the compounds during a critical period of development may explain one of the most frustrating aspects of weight gain: you eat no more than your slim friends, and exercise no less, yet are still unable to shed pounds.




Newbold gave low doses (equivalent to what people are exposed to in the environment) of hormone-mimicking compounds to newborn mice. In six months, the mice were 20 percent heavier and had 36 percent more body fat than unexposed mice. Strangely, these results seemed to contradict the first law of thermodynamics, which implies that weight gain equals calories consumed minus calories burned. “What was so odd was that the overweight mice were not eating more or moving less than the normal mice,” Newbold says. “We measured that very carefully, and there was no statistical difference.”




`Programming the fetus to make more fat cells leaves an enduring physiological legacy. “The more [fat cells], the fatter you are,” says UCSF’s Lustig. But [fat cells] are more than passive storage sites. They also fine-tune appetite, producing hormones that act on the brain to make us feel hungry or sated. With more [fat cells], an animal is doubly cursed: it is hungrier more often, and the extra food it eats has more places to go—and remain.




In 2005 scientists in Spain reported that the more pesticides children were exposed to as fetuses, the greater their risk of being overweight as toddlers. And last January scientists in Belgium found that children exposed to higher levels of PCBs and DDE (the breakdown product of the pesticide DDT) before birth were fatter than those exposed to lower levels. Neither study proves causation, but they “support the findings in experimental animals,” says Newbold. They “show a link between exposure to environmental chemicals … and the development of obesity.” [See this for more information on the potential link between pesticides and obesity.]




This fall, scientists from NIH, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and academia will discuss obesogens at the largest-ever government-sponsored meeting on the topic. “The main message is that obesogens are a factor that we hadn’t thought about at all before this,” says Blumberg. But they’re one that could clear up at least some of the mystery of why so many of us put on pounds that refuse to come off.

Pthalates – commonly used in many plastics – have been linked to obesity. See this and this.  So has a chemical used to make Teflon and other products.

Most of the meat we eat these days contains estrogen, antibiotics and  powerful chemicals which change hormone levels. Modern corn-fed beef also contains much higher levels of saturated fat than grass-fed beef. So the meat we are eating is also making us fat.

Antibiotics also used to be handed out like candy by doctors.  However, ingesting too many antibiotics has also been linked to obesity, as it kills helpful intestinal bacteria. See this and this.

Arsenic may also be linked with obesity, via it’s effect on the thyroid gland. Arsenic is often fed to chickens and pigs to fatten them up, and we end up ingesting it on our dinner plate. It’s ending up in other foods as well.

The National Research Council has also found:

The effects of fluoride on various aspects of endocrine function should be examined further, particularly with respect to a possible role in the development of several diseases or mental states in the United States.

Some hypothesize that too much fluoride affects the thyroid gland, which may in turn lead to weight gain.

No, Everything Won‘t Kill You

In response to information about toxic chemicals in our food, water and air, many people change the subject by saying “well, everything will kill you”. In other words, they try to change the topic by assuming that we would have to go back to the stone age to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals.

But this is missing the point entirely. In fact, companies add nasty chemicals to their products and use fattening food-producing strategies to cut corners and make more money.

In the same way that the financial crisis, BP oil spill and Fukushima nuclear disaster were caused by fraud and greed, we are daily exposed to obesity-causing chemicals because companies make an extra buck by lying about what is in their product, cutting every corner in the book, and escaping any consequences for their health-damaging actions.

In fattening their bottom line, the fat cats are creating an epidemic of obesity for the little guy.

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dolly madison's picture

It's all your fault. 

You have a cavity.  It's your fault.  It doesn't matter that there is a vaccine for dental cavities that is not getting approved on humans forever.  It doesn't matter that the dentists don't tell you that chewing on gum with Xylitol in it drastically reduces cavities.  It is your fault.

You're fat.   It's your fault. It doesn't matter that obviously estrogenic things are happening like making the girls develop early, and estrogen pushes toward plump.  It doesn't matter that they put tons of glutamate in the processed food that is proven to increase appetited and BMI.  It doesn't matter that they put arsenic in the food which disrupts the bodies food processing making the body have less energy to run on and more to store.  All that doesn't matter.  It's just your fault.  You did not control yourself.

Your counntry's a mess.  It's your fault.  You voted for the representatives you got.  It doesn't matter that no matter who you voted for, they do the same thing.  It's just your fault for picking wrong.

It's all your fault, but don't feel guilty.  If you go shopping, you will feel better.


AchtungAffen's picture

I guess that every American having a car and using it for everything doesn't count on this, right?

bill1102inf's picture

Its the carbs/sugar/'whole grains/corn dumbasses. DUH.  Why do you think the food plate is 50% 'grains/carbs'?? Because big pharma WANTS to sell you diabetes II medications.


Cut sugar and toxic grains from your diet, lose weight and CURE Type II diabetes, as well as MANY other ailments. Its THAT simple.



Sandmann's picture

Food Processing probably causes large numbers of health problems that Pharma companies grow rich countering. You don't need antibiotics when you can eat Thai or Brazilian chicken in prepared meals. And WHO recently stated that more animals are taking antibiotics than humans, and no physician ever takes into account this indirect dosage when prescribing - how could he ?

The use of vegetable oils instead of butter and the subsidies to sugar production are a real joke when you look at sugar-loading in every day food not to mention salt. Eat enough Chinese food and turn into a salt plain. Then the flavourings industry with its flavour salts.

Best to bake your own bread and grow your own food. If it comes from a shop it is bound to be old and weary and shrouded in plastic. The meat is probably hormone loaded to boost milk yields and the feedstock genetically-modified.

Having lived in the US for a long time i was amazed how quickly you can bulk up without living on junk food.

The more people adopt the western lifestyle the more they get western diseases - look at the Japanese who real problems are stomach cancer in Japan - what they acquire when the go west



walidsassia's picture

it is so simple to find out why US have a high rate of obeisity just check its debt level i guess both charts coorolate well, a simple fact the average US citizen is eating more and eating more than he need while maxmizing his credit card level.

chindit13's picture

Unless all these chemicals are causing humans to photosynthesize, or Isaac Newton was wrong, I suspect overeating and under-exercising has more to do with the obesity epidemic than chemicals.

Having lived outside of the US for quite some time, in both highly developed and developing nations, it is always an eye opener when I return home and see both the sizes of the people and the sizes of the portions at a typical restaurant.  Though I'm not a food scientist, if I sit at a Mall food court for half an hour, I would not come away saying chemicals are the REAL cause of obesity.  Most of it is seems on the face of it to be a lifestyle choice.  Though I am taller than average, I cannot even finish an appetizer, much less the entree, in a typical American restaurant.  I exercise heavily seven days a week, but even I do not need 3500 calories per day (which is a cinnabun and a latte, topped off with a Big Mac Value Meal).

When I go to a supermarket, it takes some effort, but eventually I find the beans and rice.  The prices are not bad, so eating healthy is not the expensive proposition many claim, though it takes time and effort to prepare a tasty meal.  Of course, three feet of shelf space pales in comparison to entire aisles devoted to chips, plus the Last Chance Chippers Impulse Stand at the checkout counter next to the National Enquirer and People magazine.  It sure seems that many people give in to temptation, though blaming bad chemicals or "glandular problems" are probably good salves.

I'll bet a simple regression analysis of factors such as 'calories consumed', 'hours of TV watched', 'hours of internet surfing', 'daily exercise', and 'chemical additives' would yield results that would alter the title of this article, or at least alter its focus.

Is there nothing at all left in life for which the individual doesn't bear at least some of the responsibility?


Fox Moulder's picture

You make some good points but next time RTFA.

Cathartes Aura's picture

appreciate the article GW, and realise that whole books have been written on the subject, so it's not easy to get everything contributing to human ill health, or obesity, on the list in a blog post.

just to add more info in case folks are interested in getting beyond the schoolyard memes:

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. 

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

and further:

The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.

The second experiment -- the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals -- monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet.

"These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides," said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. "In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes." In addition to Hoebel and Bocarsly, the research team included Princeton undergraduate Elyse Powell and visiting research associate Nicole Avena, who was affiliated with Rockefeller University during the study and is now on the faculty at the University of Florida. The Princeton researchers note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity.

In the 40 years since the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet, rates of obesity in the U.S. have skyrocketed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1970, around 15 percent of the U.S. population met the definition for obesity; today, roughly one-third of the American adults are considered obese, the CDC reported. High-fructose corn syrup is found in a wide range of foods and beverages, including fruit juice, soda, cereal, bread, yogurt, ketchup and mayonnaise. On average, Americans consume 60 pounds of the sweetener per person every year.

and of course, that's just ONE contributing factor amongst the many listed above. 

palmereldritch's picture

Added bonus: the source grain is invariably GMO and HFC has been found to contain not insignificant amounts of mercury....


George Washington's picture

Added these facts to the post at my


Consumption of the widely used food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been linked to obesity.

A lot of endocrine-disrupting pharmaceuticals and medications are also ending up in tap water.

Many crops in the U.S. are now genetically modified.  For example, 93 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered, as are:

Some allege that Roundup kills healthy gut bacteria, and that genetically modified crops cause other health problems.

And Cornell University’s newspaper – the Cornell Sun – reports that our  intestinal bacteria also substantially affect our ability to eliminate toxins instead of letting them make us fat:

Cornell scientists researching the effects of environmental toxins to the onset of obesity and Type II Diabetes, discovered that—unlike other factors such as eating too many unhealthy foods—the extent of damage caused by pollutants depends not on what a person puts into her mouth, but on what is already living within her gut.


Prof. Suzanne Snedeker, food science, and Prof. Anthony Hay, microbiology, researched the contribution that microorganisms in the gut and environmental toxins known as “obesogens” have on ever rising obesity levels. Their work, which was published last October in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reported a link between composition of gut microbiota, exposure to environmental chemicals and the development of obesity and diabetes. The review, “Do Interactions Between Gut Ecology and Environmental Chemicals Contribute to Obesity and Diabetes?”  combined three main ideas: predisposed gut microbe composition can increase an individual’s risk of obesity and Type II Diabetes, gut microbe activity can determine an individual’s metabolic reaction to persistent pollutants such as DDT and PCB and certain pharmaceuticals can also be metabolized differently depending on the community of microbes in the gut.


The microbe community influences many metabolic pathways within the gut, Snedeker said.  Our bodies metabolize chemicals, but how they are metabolized, and how much fat is stored, depends on gut ecology. Microbes are responsible not only for collecting usable energy from digested food, but also for monitoring insulin levels, storage of fat and appetite. Gut microbes also play an integral role in dealing with any chemicals that enter the body. According to Snedeker, differences in gut microbiota can cause drugs like acetaminophen to act as a toxin in some people while providing no problems for others.  While pharmaceutical and microbe interactions are well understood, there is little information in the area of microbe response to environmental toxins.


She said, there are more than three dozen chemicals called obesogenic compounds, that can cause weight gain by altering the body’s normal metabolic responses and lipid production.


“It seems probable that gut microbes are affecting how our bodies handle these environmental chemicals,” Snedeker said. According to Snedeker, enzymes that are influenced by interactions of gut microbes break down approximately two-thirds of the known environmental toxins. Therefore, differences in the gut microbe community strongly affect our bodies’ ability to get rid of environmental pollutants. Obesogens can alter normal metabolic behavior by changing the levels of fat that our bodies store. Snedeker and Hay suggested that the microbes in the gut of humans determine the way in which these chemicals are metabolized and thus could contribute to obesity.


Snedeker and Hay concluded that although high levels of obesogenic chemicals are bound to cause some kind of disruption in the gut microbe community responsible for breaking these chemicals down, the degree of the disturbance is dependent upon gut microbial composition. In other words, the amount of weight an individual is likely to gain when exposed to environmental toxins, or her risk of acquiring Type II Diabetes, could depend on the microorganism community in their gut.

RagnarDanneskjold's picture

I call BS on MSG unless you're making a genetic argument that white people are more prone to this (the way Asians have much higher rates of diabetes in the U.S. from consuming Western junk diets). Chinese have MSG next to the salt in the kitchen and they add it when cooking. Chinese are getting fatter from junk food and sedentary lifestyles just like everyone else, but there's no obesity epidemic yet and they've been eating MSG a long time.

dolly madison's picture

Excellent article as usual GW.

pan's picture

Go primal/paleo bitches!

oldman's picture

Too many fatties at ZH

Taking up space but dying without grace

fuck fat people



a man now dead


"the cosmos is never at rest.

It assembles and destroys,

producing order and chaos at once"


all of this is that                    om


User 3461's picture

I have a hard time buying this claim. We see fatsos in Africa now; where are they picking heavy doses of the chemicals up from? And "irreversible"?

I was fat most of my life (11 6 at birth). About 9 years back, I dumped 20% by just examining the value proposition: integral pleasure of munching vs integral pleasure of being fit. I drink canned club soda like a lunatic and probably have as much exposure as anyone to plastics.


I [still] suspect the problem is corn products and a culture of under-occupied people, fixated on the range of the moment. It would be real interesting to see if we tried this weird thing called FREEDOM, where people could actually pursue productivity or face starvation (work or starve), if we'd be more fit. I know, crazy talk.

geekgrrl's picture

"We see fatsos in Africa now; where are they picking heavy doses of the chemicals up from?"

Pesticide use is widespread in Africa to combat malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and this includes DDT.

Mark Noonan's picture

While there is something to be said against overly processed food and some of the additives (just what, exactly, is "high frutose corn syrup", anyway?), the real reason we're fat is that we don't do nearly as much physical labor as we used to.  We used to be farmers and manufacturer and miners...we used to have to do something to earn our bread.  Now, we sit in front a computer screen or talk on the phone or shuffle papers around.  Once we get a rational, Distributist economic system built back up, we'll also lose our fat problem because there won't be quite so many of us sitting on our duffs.

Sandmann's picture

"high frutose corn syrup


It is what causes huge spread around your is to be avoided at all costs - a cheap sweetener


Wiki  consumers in the United States no longer have access to accurate ingredient labels that establish the presence of High Fructose Corn Syrup in food products. Manufacturers are permitted to label High Fructose Corn Syrup, as "Corn Syrup" in the ingredient listing of the product packaging.[16]

Dirt Rat's picture

Precisely. And with a highly specialized division of labor, we can produce those calories far more cheaply and efficiently than ever before. We've lost all concept of how people just a few generations before us had to perform back-breaking labor to assure a meagre sustenance.

Edit: And I would have to point out externalized costs to the equation. It takes 10 calories of energy (calories are merely a measurement of energy) to deliver 1 calorie to the consumer. We've managed to successfully externalize the costs of this process.

rsnoble's picture

I'm pretty sure drowning in beer everynight has something to do with my weight problem, not to mention the huge burgers im fixing to throw on the grill.  Tried a angus burger from mcdonalds today, the toppings had more flavor than the burger.

I am convinced product mfg's who hire these supposed "taste testers" with million dollar taste buds are getting ripped off.  I still think a good ole fashioned serve the shit to the public test before investing millions first is the best idea.  I'm like hello assholes..........have you actually tasted this shit?  No probably not...........they know what's in it.

gwar5's picture

Interesting article GW. Problematic estrogenics in the water system have been well known for at least 15 years but it has been a very hush hush subject because of the politics of BIRTH CONTROL PILLS  and post-menopausal hormonal replacement therapy.


Can't get research money for studies critical of something the government supports 100%, so they do it indirectly by researching Bisphenol B. But everybody knows what the real problem is, it's birth control pills.  Birth control is a great idea but maybe we need to push things like IUDs, etc.  

See, when girls take a piss all the hormones in those birth control pills, etc., end up in the public water systems. True, the Bisphenol B in disposable plastic bottles is broken down by UV rays, and other means, and turns into estrognically active molecules that mimic estrogens -- but the 800 lb gorilla in the room is still birth control pills and everybody tip-toes around it to prevent a huge firestorm. Lawsuits?  Don't like the hormones in your milk or hamburger?  How about your faucet?

We have been seeing male human fertility go down in Western countries and mutations in amphibian animals consistent with these ligand and estrogen effects. Obama's science advisor, John Holdren said back in the 1970's that he thought government should serreptiously put something in water to reduce human population growth. Well, here we are and the price is obesity and men growing tits. 

The other reasons for obesity is "LOY" Disease -- "Lack of Youth." As humans get older they naturally get fatter, so an older population of baby boomers skews the US data. I do appreciate the fat baby data though and would agree with GW we need to look into the estrogenics. But I would start with the obvious ones first, like birth control pills! 




kaiserhoff's picture

In a post a couple of days ago, I said estrogen pollution was coming from birth control pills, which are made from horse piss.

Actually, they are made from pregnant mare piss.  My bad;)

George Washington's picture

Yes, and the government is preventing testing of water under the excuse of "national security" ...

Money Squid's picture

George, too late, the testing was done before the Gov could step in and stop it.

Here is a link to an article from the USGS

Scoot to section 3.1 Detections by clicking on the link in the left contents column.

Because of population growth and decreasing water supplies municipalities thought of toilet to tap programs to reuse water. Not a bad idea except the experts did not know/realize the existence of the significant amounts of pharmaceuticals in the wastewater, therefore the did not think to test for it, nor to treat it. So, the treated waterwater (not treated for pharmaceuticals) was recycled and infiltrated/injected underground and whoops, later it was discovered the oversight. In some population centers along significant rivers the waterwater is discharged into the bottom of the river where of course the treated water would disperese. But, that riverwater is used as a source for major metropolitan centers. Also, over the years the military had many testing facilities where they (gonna talk about the Navy for this one) tested torpedo engines in a drinking water reservoir. oooppps.

Winston Churchill's picture


As my mother in law always used to say.

Nobody fat came out of Belsen fat.

Nuff said.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Excellent post GW. A subject very near and dear to my heart. I have always struggled with my weight and have personally come to recognize that the calorie theory of weight gain is pure bunk. In terms of metabolism
vs burning a substance in a lab and measuring heat that is. I have kept my daily calories between 700-900/day on a high carb diet and gained weight. I've eaten 2000/day on high protein diet and have lost weight. Through many years of trial and error I came to the conclusion that the only thing that works for me is a moderately high protein diet with lots of veggies and salads, small amount of fruit and absolutely no starch or grains. Adjusting calories to add grains had never worked, I gained consistently. Also, to much dismay, massive amounts of exercise has not worked as well. I do power yoga with weights (95 deg room w/ 40 percent humidity, men next to me have passed out) 2 times a week. I do Peak 8 fitness running on the treadmill with p90x AB ripper 2 times a week and run 2-3 miles with my husband on the weekends. My resting heart rate at age 51 is 62 ( very athletic according to my dr) my fasting glucose is 82, cholesterol 160, BP 125/75. Even so I'm 25lb over weight. This is a hell of a lot better than 70 lbs over weight I used to be but those stubborn lbs have been impossible for me to budge. I've often wondered if there is an environment factor I don't know about because the energy in energy out theory just isn't explaining it. Somehow I can't believe I'm violating the first law of thermodynamics. I'm not trying to find excuses, just explanations.

geekgrrl's picture

Thanks GW. I've already done research into endocrine disrupters and came across the Newbold study years ago, but it's interesting to see so many overweight babies. This is where the lifestyle choices argument fails to explain the observations, and I noticed that all the proponents of the lifestyle thesis didn't address the overweight babies; they just ignore that evidence.

The other thing that's never addressed is the fact that a known endocrine disrupter, diethystilbestrol (DES), was routinely added to animal feed from the 1940's to the 1970's, for one and only one reason: it made the animals fatter on the same amount of food.

What I found fascinating about endocrine disrupters is that they have two modes of operation: at very high doses, they have traditional toxic effects, but at low doses, they actually act like information, not a toxin. For adults this is not such a big deal, but for the developing fetus, chemicals that act like information permanently program the way the endocrine system works, and how it regulates hormones. And as Vom Saal points out, the levels are phenomenally small, as in parts per trillion range.

I don't doubt that nutrient deficient processed foods and lots of sugar (HFCS) are having an effect, and this is probably a case where a multiplicity of factors play a role. At the same time, I have several overweight friends, and the lifestyle argument doesn't really apply. It was helpful for me to have some understanding why some people put on more pounds, all other things being more or less equal. 

George Washington's picture

I don't have time to edit the main article.  I've greatly expanded this article here:

The REAL Cause of the Global Obesity Epidemic

zaphod's picture

Fully agree with the link, but the core issue today is lack of personal responsibility. People are looking these days for anything to take the blame, when in reality it they should look into the mirror.

Does all the chemical, sugar, artifical this and that cause people to get fat, of course it does.

But it is people's lazyness that causes them to eat all of this in the first place.

When we had our first child, my wife started to make everything from scratch herself, this way she would know all of the ingredients herself that our child was eating. By the time our kid was 6 months, I went from slightly overweight to skinny and now look like all the actors do in 1950's movies.

But it is a lot easier to buy fast food and drink soda all day....

George Washington's picture

I agree with personal responsibility. I agree that the fat I put on after getting married, having kids and working a demanding professional job was my own damn fault ... and that I need to exercise more and eat less.

But if there is an epidemic of obesity among 6 month old babies, something else is going on as well ...

taxpayer102's picture



GW, with all due respect, you will not find the truth about obesity or obesity among 6 month old babies in the International Business Times, The Washington Post or the Daily Beast.

The Eradicator's picture

As was stated below, before jumping to any conclusions I recommend reading 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'  by Gary Taubes. Gary Taubes is a science researcher who spend 5 years researching this book. The premise is that easily digestible carbohydrates (sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour and starches) in excess prohibit your body from being able to process food due to excess insulin production so it gets stored as fat. Obesity was a 'Disease of Civilization' (Chapter 5) back at the beginning of the 20th century and experiments have shown that you can lose more weight with a higher calorie, low carb diet that a lower calorie high carb diet. Sugars and high-fructose corn syrup consumption I believe is the main culprit. Sugar/high-fructose corn syrup consumption has increased dramatically over the last few decades.

I personally have lost 25 pounds without exercising and can keep it off without effort by limiting easily digestible carbs. This book is meticulously researched, which makes it a difficult read but it is well worth it.


TerraHertz's picture

Effing hell... an entire article on obesity, and so many comments, yet not one mention of the number one cause - MSG in food. I thought this was common knowledge among the Awake. But apparently not in this forum.

Well then. Do yourself a favor and please immediately google 'msg obesity'.

Also 'MSG mice'. Summary- there are no naturally obese genetic strains of mice. So when researchers studying human obesity need lab mice that are obese, the standard means of obtaining them is to dose baby mice with MSG. The result is obese adult mice. And so it is with humans too.

This is so widely known among researchers in the field, that any mainstream media article about obesity research which does NOT mention MSG, simply has to be a propaganda piece. The only question remaining is, what is the intended message?

My guess is, a misdirection piece intended to draw attention away from MSG. The almost universal inclusion of MSG in processed foods appears to be one component of the Elite's 'kill them slowly' population reduction agenda, as with fluoridated water, canola oil, soy products, aspartame, thimerosal and oncogene vectors in innoculations, and so on.

Which is not to say that BPA and the like are not harmful. Maybe even a factor in the obesity epidemic. Just not the primary, deliberate, cause of this slow mass murder. For which many people deserve trial and execution.

There's a growing public awareness of this (and many other facets of the Elite's agenda) so maybe that explains the appearance of the article.


Burnbright's picture

You sure are an amazing troll or extremelly selfdeluded...

 I thought this was common knowledge among the Awake. But apparently not in this forum.

 any mainstream media article about obesity research which does NOT mention MSG, simply has to be a propaganda piece.

My guess is, a misdirection piece intended to draw attention away from MSG. The almost universal inclusion of MSG in processed foods appears to be one component of the Elite's 'kill them slowly' population reduction agenda

There's a growing public awareness of this (and many other facets of the Elite's agenda) so maybe that explains the appearance of the article.

But for those of you out there, MSG does nothing really. If any of you ever took a biochemsitry class you would know this. There is in fact little difference between what makes a mushroom flavorful and MSG. I hate to burst your bubble but the whole scare around MSG was meant to derive public fear in eating chinese food which used it commonly when it became "well known" that MSG was bad.

George Washington's picture

Thanks. I'll add to the main article.

honestann's picture

I don't know much of anything about MSG, except I avoid it on general principles (and because often it makes food taste to salty "or something like that" to me).  However, I must ask this.  I have several Chinese friends, and they say MSG was common in Chinese food (in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China) for many, many decades.  Yet Chinese were generally quite skinny until they started consuming western-made products.  How does this mesh up with your claims about MSG.

Please do note that my Chinese friends and I believe MSG is bad stuff.  Our only question is whether MSG causes obesity, given this "natural experiment".

palmereldritch's picture

Bit of a feel good article from the Guardian here on MSG but interesting links and history on the chemical

Bottom line: MSG is a flavour exciter hence a brain stimulant originating in the stomach which makes it inherently linked to the central nervous system by virtue of the nerve clusters found there which can often signal the body's gate keeper, the immune system (c.f. vagal afferent neurotransmitter glutamate)

It is not naturally occurring and is synthetically derived making it a double whammy on the body.

hairball48's picture

I'm 64yrs old 6'4"/190. I  still wear the same size clothes I did at 24...34x36 jeans. I'm still active. I hike, snowshoe, backpack in season...and eat sensibly as a Type II diabetic.

A lot of this obesity is because people are just plain lazy these days....especially kids. The sit around eating shitfood, playing with their electronic toys...and their parents don't hit a lick either.

I say fuck em. Let them die and get out of the gene pool  

As a libertarian small "l" fuck the gov't getting even more. involved in regulating our food eating habits. Are you fuckers who advocate for that INSANE?

Transparency in labeling is fine. Beyond that I want the gov't to stay the fuck out of the food industry.


fattail's picture

Most of the fat people I know are lazy, but always have someother kind of excuse for their predicament.

Boxed Merlot's picture

I'm not lazy, I've developed a very high tolerance level of fatigue.

Dan Duncan's picture

An amazing post. 

If I had spent my entire life reading nothing but GW posts...what I've read here today would rank as the stupiderist thing I've ever encountered.

Of course, having spent my life reading nothing but GW, it would mean I'm too stupid to realize just how stupid this post truly is....

But whatever.  That this post was dumber than anything written by GW--ever--is truly astonishing.  Breathtaking.  Another paper bag post, GW.


TSA gropee's picture

You sir are an effin' retard. You're probably just pissed that you couldn't comprehend a single sentence of GW's post or any other for that matter. Try the muppet channel, they use visuals...

MsCreant's picture

Can you tell us why you think it is so stupid?

justtotaketheedgeoff's picture

In most cases, obesity is a lifestyle choice.

Diogenes's picture

"In most cases, obesity is a lifestyle choice."

You mean they could go on a diet and lose the weight if they wanted to? Ask your fat friends if they have ever gone on a diet and how it worked for them. Then tell me about "lifestyle choices".

tony bonn's picture

this is an absolutely superb article which opens many avenues of further research and understanding....

this is just like the cellular phone lies which that asshole ceo at motorola told when he claimed that "10,000s" of studies proved that cell phone radiation is not harmful....cellular phone microradiation is extremely harmful and can kill an infant or leave extreme mental harm....

in fact, there aren't even a thousand studies on the subject much less the 10,000s which liar claimed in the 1990s...

please do an article on this subject....there is a website (can't remember it) which is devoted to the subject....europe has placed restrictions and warnings on phones to limit the damage....

shuckster's picture

The problem is, many people, obviously, have no grasp of atomic particals or physics in general, and fail to see how radiation, in any dosage, affects what it hits. The suns radiation makes us warm. Being bombarded with radiation from your cell phone affects you, for better or worse. And this completely ignores sub atomic activity which we do not even understand, neither slightly, much less largely. Obviously, this CEO you refer to was just covering his butt and any mentioning of such accusations quickly gets you called a tinfoil hat wearer. I'm not saying people should put down their cell phones, but they should be aware that using them affects them in ways that are not fully understood. Cell phone towers are known to kill plants around them. Once again, this does not mean they should be gotten rid of, but we must realize that they do affect us and that further study should be conducted....

dolph9's picture

Everybody here, in their spare time, should watch old clips from the 70s, 80s, 90s.  Anything you can get your hands, movies, sports, whatever.

Notice how people look generally thinner, more robust, with naturally healthy looking bodies and complexions.

Then compare it to the present day.  Now, the athletes look either flabby/fat (baseball) or like they're on steroids (football, basketball).  The people who do look "normal" have had plastic surgery or whitening which makes their teeth and faces look fake.

And Hollywood digitally removes moles and scars, so people look like dolls or CGI robots on screen.

And notice the frantic, anxious state that everybody seems to be in.  Like the idiots on cable news.  It's like nobody knows how to actually interact, have a conversation with each other.

We've fallen far, folks.

Diogenes's picture

Even better go back to movies of the thirties and notice how slim most of the actors are, at least the younger ones.

abemko's picture

Check out Sugar, the Bitter Truth to understand how cheap calories. bad studies and misguided government policy contributed to the diabetes and obesity epidemic.

And the movie Thrive clearly explaining how monopoly capitalism creates the conditions which encourage Cargo Cult science and the current pseudo scientific medical system.