The Unbelievable Reason You're Gaining Weight

A common chemical in canned food actually turns your body's stem cells into fat cells, new research suggests.

May 24, 2012

Too many calories is a big part of weight gain, but that's not the whole story.

A common chemical that most people never heard of could be a profound contributor to the obesity epidemic. Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether, otherwise known as BADGE, is found in canned food liners, as is bisphenol A, or BPA, another controversial chemical linked to heart attacks, infertility, and other health problems.


A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives discovered that extremely low levels of BADGE promote weight gain in a creepy, sci-fi kind of way. While both BADGE and BPA are believed to have the power to turn pre-fat cells into fat cells, the latest study shows that BADGE may be an even more potent obesity-promoting chemical than BPA. Researchers found that BADGE has the ability to cause certain adult stems cells—cells used to replace dying skeletal, muscular, and cartilage cells—into fat cells. "The more fat cells you have, the more your body weight will drift up," explains study author Bruce Blumberg, PhD, professor of developmental and cell biology at the University of California–Irvine. "Every obese person has more fat cells than a non-obese person."

Blumberg said early in life—particularly when a baby is developing in a mother's womb—is when most of the damage from exposure is done, reprogramming the child's normal bodily functions and setting him or her up for weight problems later in life. "What I don't want to argue is that obesogen exposure dooms you to being fat," Blumberg says. "It dooms you to have to work harder to not be fat, though."

Read: 8 Surprising Things That Are Making You Fat


Exposure to certain obesity-promoting chemicals known as obesogens seem to affect weight gain in adults, too, meaning you're never too old to adopt a healthy diet and detox your home.

For instance, popular diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos actually promote weight gain, as do certain antidepressants. The popular food additive MSG, pesticides, and PVC plastics are also believed to contain obesity-promoting chemicals.

Avoiding many of these chemicals could promote health form many generations down the line, too. A first-of-its-kind study released earlier this week found that chemicals could cause health problems in families for as long as three generations after a family member is exposed. To protect your health, eat organic, avoid plastic as much as possible (never heat it), use a carbon filter to help remove contaminants from the water you use in your home, eat less meat and canned foods and drinks, and avoid vinyl products and scented personal care products.

Read More: 12 Household Toxins You Should Banish From Your Home