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Hormone-mimicking chemicals that already have a bad rap for their role as endocrine disruptors in the body (including the notorious bisphenol A (BPA) that has led to the shunning of plastic water bottles nationwide), are now thought to also screw with the body's metabolism and, depending on the amount and timing of exposure, predispose individuals to obesity. We're surrounded by these chemicals: BPA and pthalates are everywhere, from water bottles to dryer sheets to the PVC pipes that deliver your shower water, and they're taking their toll. Call them obesogens—scientists are, it's a term coined by Bruce Blumberg, a leading researcher on the issue, and a recent Newsweek story illustrates the increasing body of evidence that links these chemicals to the body's metabolism.

The problem is two-fold: in developing fetuses and newborn babies, the compounds turn precursor (undeveloped) cells into fat cells, and they may interfere with the body's metabolic rate even later on, driving the body to store calories rather than burn them.