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Programmed To Be Fat?

What if something is happening to children pre-natally that is programming our species to be heavier than we should be?

Perhaps being fat isn't simply the result of too much food, too little exercise, and genetics. Controversial new science is raising suspicion about chemicals in our environment that may be setting us up for obesity before we're even born.

Every second adult in the western world is overweight. One in six is obese. It's true that we eat too much and don't exercise enough. But a small group of scientists have begun looking beyond the obvious because of a group that can't chew, let alone jog: infant obesity rose more than 70 per cent in just twenty years. You can't blame them for unhealthy lifestyles. The scientists suspect that, starting in the womb, man-made chemicals may be triggering changes to our metabolism that result in life-long weight gain.

PROGRAMMED TO BE FAT? tells the stories of three scientists whose unexpected findings led them to follow the research of a curious doctor in Scotland, baffled by her inability to lose weight. For three years she pored over existing research on environmental chemicals and finally published a key study in an alternative medicine journal. It linked endocrine-disrupting chemicals to the obesity epidemic. The scientists came across the paper while puzzling over their own research results. None of their studies were about fat, but they had two things in common - they were all researching endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and they all ended up with unusually heavy lab animals.

Endocrine disruptors are all around us - in plastic, in cans, in the water we drink, in the food we eat. They're not supposed to enter our bodies, but they do. If they're proven to cause weight gain, the implications for human health are profound.

Now, scientists are going beyond animal research to human population studies, testing the theory that fetal exposure to man-made chemicals is a key reason for our global obesity epidemic and making a strong argument for the adoption of the precautionary principle to regulate the introduction of new man-made chemicals.

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