Are industrial chemicals and environmental pollutants to blame for the obesity epidemic or are we just eating too much?
Why Are We Fat? A Simpler Explanation
The idea that how much you weigh is simply a factor of how many calories you take in versus how many you burn is currently unpopular—it’s seen by many as overly simplistic. Then again, the principle of Occam’s Razor states that the simplest explanation for any phenomenon is the most likely one.
Maybe Both Sides Are Right
Media coverage tends to cast the issue as a fight between experts who believe that calories don’t matter and those who insist that they are all that matter. A recent article by Kristin Wartman in the Atlantic set the stage like this:
“Researchers believe that [industrial chemicals]…may be altering the way our bodies store fat and regulate our metabolism. But…many scientists, nutritionists, and doctors are still firm believers in the energy balance model. A debate has ensued…”
To me, it seems perfectly plausible that exposure to industrial chemicals could play some role in our metabolisms…but it’s rather unlikely that our increased caloric intake plays no role. And, to be honest, despite how they are quoted in the press, I don’t think the scientists on either side of this “debate” are seriously arguing that obesity has one and only one cause. The real debate is how big an impact the various factors might have—and what we can reasonably do about them.