After eating that big turkey dinner, you’re probably feeling fat, and most of us are fat and getting fatter–why is this? Most people would say it’s because we eat too much and exercise too little. But that answer, while valid, may be a little too simple–there may be many other causes for obesity.
One of these is light: Studies have shown that subtle changes in the amount of time spent in light or dark environments changes eating habits. Increased light pollution in our industrial society may play a role in weight gain. Viruses–and the antibiotics used to fight them–are another possible cause. Genetic modifications brought about by any number of environmental cues such as stress and even climate change may also lead to weight gain.
Fat has been blamed on lots of different things, but pollution? It’s possible that some of the pollutants and pesticides that pregnant women are exposed to here may be fueling the US childhood obesity epidemic. Babies whose mothers had relatively high levels of the chemical DDE in their blood are more likely to both grow rapidly during their first 6 months and to have a high body mass index (BMI) by 14 months. DDE is a by-product of the pesticide DDT, which is no longer used in the US, but is still sprayed abroad. Pesticides that ARE still being used here could be making our kids overweight. Obesity is a problem that may have many causes and will need many solutions. Researcher Yann Klimentidis says, "When looking for ways to combat obesity in humans, we need to be more aware of all the possible alternative causes."
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