Could a Pesticide Be Contributing to a Global Obesity Epidemic?

A commonly-used pesticide could be partially responsible for the global obesity epidemic, finds a study. Researchers from McMaster University in Canada discovered that chlorpyrifos—widely sprayed on fruits and vegetables in many parts of the world—slows down the burning of calories in the brown adipose tissue of mice.

Reducing the burning of calories, a process known as diet-induced thermogenesis, causes the body to store these extra calories and promotes obesity. Scientists made the discovery after studying 34 commonly used pesticides and herbicides in brown fat cells and testing the effects of chlorpyrifos in mice fed high calorie diets. The findings, published in the journal, ‘Nature Communications’, can have important implications for public health.

“Brown fat is the metabolic furnace in our body, burning calories, unlike normal fat that is used to store them. This generates heat and prevents calories from being deposited on our bodies as normal white fat. We know brown fat is activated during cold and when we eat,” said Gregory Steinberg, Professor of medicine at McMaster.

Excerpted from The Tribune

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