Toronto, August 29
A widely used pesticide could be partly responsible for the global obesity epidemic, finds a study.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada discovered that chlorpyrifos – widely sprayed on fruits and vegetables in many parts of the world – slows the burning of calories in brown adipose tissue in mice.
Reducing the amount of calories burned, a process known as diet-induced thermogenesis, causes the body to store those 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 a high-calorie diet.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, can have important public health implications.
“Brown fat is the metabolic furnace in our body that burns calories as opposed to regular fat, which is used to store them. This creates heat and prevents calories from being deposited on our body as regular white fat. We know that brown fat is activated in the cold and when we eat, “says Gregory Steinberg, professor of medicine at McMaster.
“Lifestyle changes related to diet and exercise rarely result in sustained weight loss. We believe that part of the problem may be this intrinsic shutdown of the metabolic furnace by chlorpyrifos, ”he added.
Steinberg said chlorpyrifos would only need to inhibit energy expenditure in brown fat by 40 calories per day to trigger obesity in adults, equivalent to an additional five pounds (pounds) of weight gain per year.
He said that while several environmental toxins, including chlorpyrifos, have been linked to rising obesity rates in humans and animals, most of these studies attributed the weight gain to increased food intake rather than calorie burning.
Obesity is responsible for 4.7 million premature deaths each year.
It’s a risk factor for several of the world’s leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various cancers. – IANS