a students' magazine

Fat chance of losing weight!

Ok everyone, so here’s the thing.  Summer’s on its way and we’re all looking to achieve that beach body; diets, exercise and hostility towards all things sugary. 😉

But did you know that by slathering on moisturiser (to counteract the lack of fat in your diet, hence dry skin), or even washing your hair or slapping on sun tan lotion, you may actually be fuelling weight-gain?

Chemicals are everywhere, even in the air we breathe, and we can’t do much about that. However, what we can do is to start reading our labels because we need to look out for what researchers call OBESOGENS.

What are obesogens?  They are chemical compounds that alter metabolism to favour storing calories as opposed to burning them.  Obesogens also alter the hormones that alert the brain when the stomach is full after a meal. In less scientific terms, obesogens are the synthetic chemicals used in many of our beauty products such as nail polish, makeup, deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner, that can lead to weight gain.

Phthalates can be identified on product labels as DEHP, BzBP, DBP, DEP, or DMP.

Parabens are also regarded as dangerous, in fact you will now see more and more products that state on the label  that they are “paraben-free”.  This chemical is used as an antioxidant, meaning it can increase shelf-life of a product. Parabens also mimic oestrogen and an excess of this hormone can lead to obesity,  diabetes, cancer and all sorts of fertility problems.

Phthalates are one of the bad guys because they are endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  They are found in thousands of household products like washing up liquid, shampoo, deodorants and perfume. As a rule, anything that smells nice is almost sure to contain phthalates because they are used to hold fragrance and colour in a substance.

Studies on animals have shown consistently that the chemicals depress testosterone levels, known to be a risk factor for weight gain. They have also been found to mimic the effects of oestrogen, which have been linked to weight gain and early puberty.

You might argue that many pesticides have the same harmful effects. True, but what you eat actually has a chance of being broken down and filtered by our bodies during the process of digestion. On the other hand, what you put on your skin gets absorbed directly into the blood stream through our capillaries, with no chance of being filtered much. The chemicals come out as an end product in our urine and studies have shown that people with high amounts of body fat have high contents of phthalates in their urine.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not an excuse to abandon personal hygiene and slump in an armchair in front of the TV eating crisps, Nutella and drinking Coke!

A healthy diet and regular exercise are still fundamental to keeping fit.

What we can do is to start reading our labels; you won’t need a degree in organic chemistry (although this helps!), but you will need a magnifying glass to read what’s written…the print is super tiny I’m afraid, but that is not going to stop us, is it? 😉