Go Green, Get Lean

There is nothing light about cellulite. Recent government reports suggest that one in three American children born in 2000 will suffer from obesity, leading some observers to suggest that this might be the first generation where kids are dying at a younger age than their parents.

Most of us assume that obesity is the end result of an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise, but some scientists think the problem is a more complex one. Pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis once said, "To say that obesity is caused by merely consuming too many calories is like saying that the only cause of the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party."

I was having a cup of coffee (only one sugar) with a friend when he told me about a new book called The 21st Century is Making You Fat, written by Pat Thomas. What interested me was the author’s argument that “chemical calories” caused by poisonous pollutants, have impacted our bodies’ ability to metabolize fat.

Bruce Cohen, a blogger at South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper, explains:

The research suggests that the body, confronted by increasing levels of toxins, responds by creating fat cells to stash them in, effectively insulating and protecting the organs (liver, kidneys, heart, etc) from these poisons. But when you go on a diet, the fat cells shrink and release this toxic soup back into the blood stream, which now starts reducing the levels of fat-burning hormones and enzymes, slowing down your metabolism. Ergo the vicious circle known as the rebound-effect that dieters know oh-so-well.

Thomas sums it up:

…it is possible the obesity epidemic is really an adaptive response by the body to a chemically toxic environment.

Says Cohen:

Backing up the environmental model is the publication of so-called fat maps in the UK and USA which show that the incidence of obesity occurs in the most polluted regions of these countries.

If this analysis proves to be correct, obesity will decline when pollution levels decline. If corporations fail to improve their environmental practises, they might find that their work force will one day be too obese to be productive.