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Taking off your shoes when you get home can help you lose weight

Chemicals called obesogens, which are found in everyday products, promote obesity by interfering with the way that our bodies store and process fat. A recent study reveals how using less plastic, getting rid of your carpet, and even taking off your shoes as soon as you get home can help reduce weight gain associated with obesogens.

Obesity has become an increasing problem, affecting millions of people worldwide. Among babies and children, a sharp rise in obesity cannot be fully explained by changes in diets and lifestyles alone.

Individuals who are overweight are at a higher risk for many serious health complications such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and certain types of cancer. Obesity contributes to an estimated 2.8 million deaths every year.

Obesogens disrupt how our bodies work on a cellular level. The chemicals increase our appetite and promote fat accumulation by increasing the number and size of our fat cells. Obesogens also change our ability to burn calories, making it more difficult to lose fat.

Led by Dr. Ana Catarina Sousa, researchers from the University of Aveiro and the University of Beira Interior set out to identify the main sources of obesogens.

The team performed a comprehensive analysis of existing surveys and studies, and found that indoor exposure to obesogens is primarily caused by certain foods, house dust, plastics, cleaning chemicals, kitchenware, and cosmetics.

“Obesogens can be found almost everywhere, and our diet is a main source of exposure, as some pesticides and artificial sweeteners are obesogens,” said Dr. Sousa. “Equally, they are present in plastics and home products, so completely reducing exposure is extremely difficult – but to significantly reduce it is not only feasible, but also very simple.”

The experts have developed specific recommendations to reduce obesogen exposure based on their investigation. They say to choose fresh food over processed food, avoid cleaning products whenever possible, and to buy fruits and vegetables without pesticides.

The researchers also recommend to dust and vacuum very often, and to buy high-efficiency particulate air filters. They explain that reducing the use of plastic, particularly when heating or storing foods, will also help reduce exposure to obesogens.

Furthermore, removing your shoes as soon as you get home will help to avoid the spread of obesogens that have accumulated on the soles outdoors.

“These are baby steps to achieve an obesogen-free lifestyle but a really good start. Essentially, watch your diet and get rid of the dust at home,” said Dr. Sousa.

“Adults ingest about 50mg of dust every day, and children twice as much, so keeping the house clean is a very effective measure. And use a humid cloth to dust your furniture, rather than a cleaning product that may contain more of these chemicals.”

The team is currently conducting further studies to provide unequivocal evidence of how obesogens are contributing to the obesity epidemic.

The research was presented in Barcelona at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting (ECE 2018).

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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