Want to know what's really making us fat?

Nobody would be shocked if I said "Americans are suffering from an obesity epidemic." New studies come out all of the time about why this is happening. Have our portion sizes grown that much? Are we just eating more calories thanks to junk and fast food? Is it that we have a more sedentary lifestyle these days? Science doesn't seem to have the right answer yet.

Although a recent study said that the only thing that truly matters in weight loss in the amount of calories you consume, some researchers now believe that it's a lot more complicated than that.

A relatively new field, called obesogens, examines the role of industrial chemicals and the non-caloric aspects of food, meaning that they look at how our body reacts to pollution and processed foods instead of just the calorie number. And their findings may surprise you.


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The man behind the term "obesogen" studies organotins (chemical compounds) and believes that they "change how your body responds to calories". Bruce Blumberg, professor of developmental and cell biology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, Irvine, explains the science behind why he feels this way:

The ones we study, tributyltin and triphenyltin, actually cause exposed animals to have more and bigger fat cells. The animals that we treat with these chemicals don't eat a different diet than the ones who don't get fat. They eat the same diet -- we're not challenging them with a high-fat or a high-carbohydrate diet. They're eating normal food, and they're getting fatter.

Not everyone is convinced, though. The people behind the study that said only the amount of calories matter say it "doesn't make a difference". Meanwhile, a study conducted by Princeton University found that, at least when it comes to sweeteners, it might. In that report, rats that drank water with high fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than rats who sugar water, despite the amount of calories being the same.

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So what's the real answer?

It seems that science can't quite agree yet. But while we wait for a magical solution to the obesity epidemic, I'm aiming to do what I can at home. I'm aiming to be healthier eat more vegetables, control my portion sizes with different kind of plates and exercising at least 20 minutes a day. For now, that seems to be the only real way to stay slim. At least until researchers can agree.

What do you think of the study that says chemically processed foods make us gain more weight?

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