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Obesity worsened by obesogen contaminants found in drinking water

Obesity worsened by plastic, pesticides & PFAOS in drinking water

This blog post explores the surprising link between drinking water and obesity. Read on for details of how to protect your health from a major source of obesogens.  

What are ‘obesogens’ and how do they get into our bodies?

Obesogens are a variety of chemicals with:

“side effects that interfere with hormone action, which can lead to altered metabolism and ultimately to obesity” (Lustig, 2022).

These chemicals are used in manufacturing and agriculture. They now pollute our environment so widely that they are found in water, air and soil. We’re exposed to them through drinking water and food, plus plastics including some food containers and drinks bottles.

Obesogens include:

  • PFOAS, used to manufacture non-stick cookware, known to contaminate UK tap water, and found in the blood of 98% of Americans (Perkins, 2022)
  • Endocrine disruptors, organotins used in manufacturing and agriculture, identified in tap water and foods such as seafood and shellfish
  • Pesticides, used in agriculture with run-off into water sources; especially those that persist in the environment for a long term (persistent organic pollutants or POPs for short)
  • BPA and phthalates, used in the production of plastics
  • Flame retardants, used in manufacturing
  • Arsenic, used to produce pesticides and insecticides which run-off into water sources; naturally present in drinking water in some areas such as Cornwall
  • Antidepressants, especially SSRIs, traces of which are found in tap water.

Scientists believe that obesogens disrupt normal functioning of lipid metabolism. Lipids include fatty acids and cholesterol, which are stored in adipose (fatty) tissue. Obesogens change how your body uses and stores lipids, regulates appetite and balances energy use – that’s the ‘obesogen hypothesis’.

Why are we talking about this now?

Obesogens were in the news over 10 years ago. However, accelerating environmental pollution by human-made chemicals means that obesogens are more prevalent in our water, food and air than ever before.

Additionally, research published within the last few months increases our understanding of the obesogen hypothesis and highlights the diverse ways in which environmental pollution affects our health.

Obesity caused by more than diet and a sedentary lifestyle

Can we really blame obesity on chemical pollutants in our water and food?

Isn’t this obesogenic hypothesis an entertaining snippet of information to pass to our dieting friends, but nothing more? After all, a rage of factors cause obesity, right?

“Environmental factors that promote obesity include a host of alterations, including nutrition, overeating and binge eating disorders/food addiction, time of eating, physical inactivity, drugs, viruses, and the gut microbiome.” (Lustig, 2022)

However, researchers go on to explain that:

“Various obesogens exert their actions within one or more of these pathways.” (Lustig, 2022)

Furthermore, researchers found that obesogens play a role in rising rates of obesity in children, even infants and babies in the womb:

“Developmental exposure to obesogens also leads to obesity later in life and even across generations.” (Lustig, 2022)

Endocrinologists at the Harvard School of Public health looked at babies’ weights, “those for whom the obvious explanations for obesity don’t work”(Lustig quoted in Begley, 2009). They found that, in the period from 1980 to 2006, obesity rose 73% in babies under 6 months old. (Lustig quoted in Begley, 2009. If lifestyle factors weren’t the cause of weight gain in those babies, what was? Researchers looked at non-obvious causes and found that early-life exposure to obesogens contributes to weight gain:

“Thus we proffer that the change in prevalence and severity of obesity is, at least in part, due to the occurrence and accumulation of various environmental alterations — in the form of either poor nutrition or obesogenic EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals] — in an otherwise genetically susceptible population, the most susceptible of which is the fetus.” (Lustig, 2022)

Type 2 Diabetes is linked to chemical pollutants causing obesity

Beyond obesity: type 2 diabetes and obesogens

Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a combination of obesity, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). Researchers say that type 2 diabetes is particularly linked to obesogens. Type 2 accounts for 90% of cases of diabetes and rates of it are increasing.

Whilst factors under personal control, such as diet and exercise, play an important role in type 2 diabetes, other factors play their part. Genes, certain medications and other medical conditions can predispose you to type 2 diabetes. And scientists found links between type 2 diabetes and exposure to obesogens such as arsenic (Navas-Acien, 2008), pesticides and plasticisers. (Thayer, 2012)

Protect children from obesity with a water purifier

Who is most at risk from obesity causing contaminants in water?

Scientists say that obesogen chemicals are more likely to contribute to obesity in younger adults (people under 50) than older adults. This is because younger people are exposed to more environmental pollutants during their lifetime than older generations have been.

That means for those over 50, the usual ‘lifestyle’ factors are most likely to be the cause for excess weight. But for those under the age of 50, obesogenic contaminants in water, food, air and common plastic objects are likely a contributing factor to overweight.

Alarmingly, it’s babies who are particularly vulnerable:

“Studies also showed that in utero and early-life exposures were the most sensitive times for exposure because this irreversibly altered programming of various parts of the metabolic system, increasing susceptibility for weight gain.” (Heindel, 2022)

If chemical pollutants including obesogens are so widespread in our environment, is it pointless to try to reduce our exposure?

Protect babies in the womb from obesogens in drinking water

How to protect your family’s health and reduce your ingestion of obesogens.

Fortunately, it’s very simple to drastically cut your exposure to obesogens and other chemicals linked to a variety of diseases. That’s because drinking water is by far the greatest source of exposure to PFAOS, one type of obesogen:

“Drinking water is recognised as one of the main sources of our exposure to PFAS.” (Schneider, quoted in Salvidge, 2021)

We also know that UK tap water contains microplastics, pesticides and endocrine disruptors all of which are obesogenic. Furthermore, we know that bottled water the world over is even more contaminated with plastics than tap water. Whilst 72% of UK tap water samples were found to contain plastic fibres, 90% of bottled waters contain plastic particles. (Carrington, 2017; Readfern, 2018)

So, it makes sense to ensure that your drinking water is as uncontaminated as possible. All you need to do is get a reverse osmosis drinking water purifier for your home. PureH2O purifiers work day in, day out to remove 98% of inorganic and 99.99% of organic contaminants in tap water. That includes obesogens like PFAOS, microplastics, pesticides, arsenic and more.

It’s especially worthwhile getting a water purifier if you have young children. That’s because research found that early-life exposure to obesogens sets the stage for adult obesity. Even more concerning is that:

“The developmental effects of some obesogen exposures persist across generations.” (Heindel, 2022)

So, drinking PureH2O pure water could help future generations of your family enjoy good health and a long life, too!

RODI+™ water purifier

Why PureH2O?

Unlike most on the market, PureH2O water purifiers are manufactured in Great Britain. This means superior build quality and reliability, lower food miles and UK based customer service and technical support. Our purifiers benefit from clever technology including service reminders, leak detection and automatic self-clean. They’re the most water and energy efficient purifiers on the market, so you don’t need to worry about your bills.

We have a range of models to suit your needs. So whether you’re living by yourself in a small flat, or have a huge family in a large house (and everyone in between), there’s a PureH2O purifier for you. Our purifiers fit neatly into a kitchen cupboard or even in the kickspace underneath, so there’s nothing to clutter up your counters.

The water’s purer than all bottled water brands, tastes great and helps protect your health. To find out more, see what’s available and request a quote click here. You can also call our friendly team on 01483 617000 or alternatively, fill out our contact form.

PurityPRO water purifier removes obesogens


Begley, S Why chemicals called obesogens may make you fat Newsweek, 09.10.09 accessed 26.08.22

Carrington, D Environmental toxins are worsening obesity pandemic, say scientists Guardian 19.05.22 accessed 25.08.22

Carrington, D Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals, Guardian 06.09.17 accessed 30.08.22

Heindel, J J et al. Obesity II: Establishing causal links between chemical exposures and obesity, Biochemical Pharmacology, Volume 199, 2022, 115015, ISSN 0006-2952, accessed 30.08.22

Lustig, R et al Obesity I: Overview and molecular and biochemical mechanisms, Biochemical Pharmacology, Volume 199, 2022, 115012, ISSN 0006-2952, accessed 26.08.22

Navas-Acien A, et al Arsenic exposure and prevalence of type 2 diabetes in US adults. JAMA. 2008 Aug 20;300(7):814-22. doi: 10.1001/jama.300.7.814. PMID: 18714061. accessed 30.08.22

Perkins, T New method to break down ‘forever chemicals’ shows promise, study says Guardian 18.08.22 accessed 26.08.22

Readfern, G WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water, Guardian 15.03.18 accessed 30.08.22

Salvidge, R UK Flying Blind on Levels of Toxic Chemicals in Tap Water Guardian 25.03.21 accessed 30.08.22

Thayer K A, et al Role of environmental chemicals in diabetes and obesity: a National Toxicology Program workshop review. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Jun;120(6):779-89. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104597. Epub 2012 Feb 1. PMID: 22296744; PMCID: PMC3385443. Accessed 26.08.22


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