Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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DDT and obesity

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You know how I feel about mouse studies. It’s very difficult to create circumstances that accurately mimic real life in the lab. It’s even more difficult to create circumstances using mice that can be assumed to be the same for humans. A recent study reported that perinatal exposure to DDT caused an increase in diabetes and insulin resistance in mice.

It was quite interesting that the only difference between the mice exposed to DDT in the womb, and those not exposed, appeared to be a decrease in body temperature. They ate the same amount of food, exercised the same amount, and yet they gained weight, apparently because of decreased thermogenesis.

What are the implications of this for those of us who are human though? Well, if you live in a country where DDT is not banned as a pesticide, or is used to control malaria, it may be a concern. It may also be a factor in women (apparently the DDT did not have the same effect on male mice as it did on the females) who were exposed to DDT in the womb before DDT was banned (1972 in Canada and the US). However, it does nothing to explain the current rise in obesity rates and rates of type 2 diabetes in North Americans of all ages. Type 2 diabetes rates in children continue to rise. This study does bring more validity to the argument that pesticide exposure may be playing a role in the obesity epidemic. However, DDT is certainly not the culprit in our neck of the woods.