Sign Up For Our FREE Webinar & Start Your Journey Towards Healing & Wellness

Pompa Program Primary Logo
What Is Driving The Obesity Crisis

What Is Driving The Obesity Crisis?

Processed Foods And Toxins Are Driving The Obesity Crisis

Why weren’t people fat in the 1930s? There are two main reasons why there wasn’t an obesity crisis in the 1930s. Specifically, our ancestors didn’t eat processed foods and they weren’t exposed to the level of toxins we are today. The ingredients in processed foods promote the accumulation of fat. Toxins from a variety of sources cause hormone resistance so leptin, insulin, and thyroid hormone aren’t able to direct cellular function, resulting in obesity.

The 3-Legged Stool – The 3 Factors That Result In Obesity

The analogy of a 3-legged stool ties in all the factors that contribute to obesity. Specifically, stressors like processed foods and toxins, microbiome dysbiosis, and detrimental epigenetic expression all come together and result in unchecked fat gain. By addressing and repairing these foundational supports, we can quickly lose unwanted weight.

3-legged stool

Leg #1 – Stressors

Stressors manifest in various forms, including physical, emotional, or environmental factors like exposure to processed foods and toxins. Stressors affect the other two legs of the stool – the microbiome and epigenetic expression. It is important to identify and address these stressors to begin the journey to optimal health.1

Leg #2 – Microbiome Health

Our gut health has a significant impact on our overall well-being. The microbiome, or the community of microbes living in our digestive system, plays a crucial role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. However, stressors like processed food and toxins disrupt the balance of our microbiome and lead to dysbiosis.2

Leg #3 – Epigenetic Expression

Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression that are influenced by environmental factors like toxins. These changes have a significant impact on our metabolism. By dealing with methyl scavenging toxins and providing more methyl groups, we are able to optimize epigenetic expression, turning off genes that are causing obesity.3

Processed Foods Are Driving The Obesity Crisis

One of the main reasons why processed foods contribute to the obesity crisis is due to their high levels of added sugars and unhealthy fats. These ingredients not only add excess calories but also lack essential nutrients that our bodies need to function properly.

Moreover, processed foods often contain artificial additives and preservatives that disrupt our natural hormone balance and metabolism, leading to weight gain. Some studies have even linked specific food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) to increased appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods.4

In addition to unhealthy ingredients, processed foods are also low in fiber, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system and promoting feelings of fullness. Without enough fiber, individuals often consume larger portions of processed foods without feeling satisfied, leading to overeating and weight gain.5

Furthermore, the processing of these foods removes essential vitamins and minerals, leaving them nutrient-poor. This causes deficiencies in vital nutrients that are necessary for energy production, proper immune function, and overall health.6

Another concerning factor is the packaging of processed foods, which often contain harmful chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA). BPA has been linked to obesity by disrupting hormone levels and epigenetic changes that turn on genes that promote fat accumulation.7

Read more about the dangers of processed food.

What Is Driving The Obesity Crisis

Toxins Are Driving The Obesity Crisis

Toxins are harmful substances found in our environment that enter our bodies through various means such as air pollution, contaminated food or water sources, and exposure to chemicals used in consumer products.

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

One study found that exposure to environmental toxins, specifically endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), disrupted the body’s metabolism and contributed to weight gain. EDCs are chemicals that mimic or interfere with hormones in the body, leading to hormonal imbalances and metabolic dysfunction.8

There are a wide variety of products that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals. EDCs are often used in the production of plastic materials, including water bottles, food storage containers, and even plastic wrap.

Many personal care items, such as shampoos, soaps, lotions, and cosmetics, contain EDCs. These chemicals act as fragrances or preservatives in these products. EDCs are also found in certain pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture. These chemicals enter our bodies through residues on fruits and vegetables or through contaminated drinking water.

Some household cleaners, including air fresheners, disinfectants, and laundry detergents, contain EDCs. These chemicals are inhaled or absorbed through the skin during use. Flame retardants used in furniture and other building materials also contain EDCs. These chemicals leach out of these products and into our homes.

Many children’s toys, such as plastic dolls and action figures, contain EDCs. Additionally, certain baby products like pacifiers and bottles are also made with materials that contain these chemicals.9

Persistent Organic Pollutants

Another study found a link between higher levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and obesity. POPs are toxic chemicals that accumulate in our bodies over time and have been linked to various health issues, including reproductive problems and immune system disorders.10

There are a variety of products that contain persistent organic pollutants. POPs were commonly used in pesticides, such as DDT and chlordane, to control insects and other pests. However, due to their persistence and harmful effects on the environment, many of these pesticides have been banned or restricted. Industrial chemicals, like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were widely used for their insulating properties in electrical equipment. They are also found in certain adhesives, sealants, paints, and plastics. 

POPs are found in various consumer products such as flame retardants, plasticizers, and even personal care products like lotions and cosmetics. Certain building materials, such as insulation and flooring, contain POPs. These chemicals are released into the air over time, contributing to indoor air pollution. 

POPs contaminate food through various sources, including agricultural practices, industrial processes, and packaging materials. Some fish and seafood contain high levels of POPs due to bioaccumulation in their bodies. This poses a health risk for those who consume them regularly.11

What Is Driving The Obesity Crisis - toxins


In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the link between PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and obesity. These man-made chemicals are commonly used in various consumer products such as food packaging, non-stick cookware, and stain-resistant fabrics. They have also been found to be widespread in our environment, with traces of them being detected in drinking water, soil, and even wildlife.

PFAS belong to a group of chemicals that are known for their ability to repel oil and water. This makes them useful for creating non-stick surfaces or preventing stains on fabrics. However, research has shown that these chemicals harm human health in various ways.

One of the ways in which PFAS contribute to obesity is through their effect on the endocrine system. These chemicals have been found to disrupt hormone levels and metabolic processes, leading to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. In addition, studies have shown that exposure to PFAS leads to changes in gene expression related to fat metabolism.12

Furthermore, PFAS have also been linked to insulin resistance, a condition where cells become less responsive to insulin and are unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. This further exacerbates issues with obesity.13

Unfortunately, it is difficult for individuals to completely avoid exposure to PFAS as they are so prevalent in our environment. However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce exposure, such as avoiding certain consumer products and opting for alternatives made with safer materials.

Toxins Affect The Microbiome

Research has shown that toxins affect the gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism and weight. Exposure to certain toxins has been found to disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to inflammation and other metabolic abnormalities.14

Individuals should take steps to minimize their exposure to toxins by choosing organic foods, avoiding plastic containers and household cleaning products with harsh chemicals, as well as using air filters in homes. These small changes can make a significant difference in reducing the toxic burden on our bodies.

Toxins Modify Methylation Patterns That Contribute To Obesity

Methylation is a process where methyl groups (-CH3) are added to DNA molecules, which then affect gene expression. Studies have shown that changes in methylation patterns are associated with obesity and its related health risks.15 

One factor that has been identified as a modulator of methylation patterns are toxins like heavy metals. These toxins alter the activity of enzymes involved in the methylation process, leading to changes in gene expression.16

Moreover, studies have also shown that exposure to certain toxins during pregnancy affects the developing fetus and increases their risk of developing obesity later in life. This highlights the importance of reducing exposure to toxins for both pregnant women and individuals struggling with obesity.17

Cellular Membrane Inflammation, Hormone Resistance, And Obesity

Toxins cause inflammation of the cellular membrane. Inflammation of the cellular membrane has a significant impact on hormone function in the body. This is because inflammation changes the shape of hormone receptors. The consequence is hormone resistance, where hormones are unable to dock to membrane receptors.18 

If hormones can’t dock, they can’t communicate with cells and regulate their functions. Adequate hormone function is required to regulate metabolism. If leptin, insulin, and thyroid hormone can’t manage cellular function, obesity and metabolic syndrome are the result.19

The 5Rs – Reversing Obesity And Restoring Health

The issues that are contributing to the obesity crisis can be addressed with my 5Rs. After eating processed foods and being exposed to toxins over the course of a lifetime, they accumulate within the body and negatively affect cellular function. This is why we must detoxify the cell in order to get well.

The first step, R1, simply states that we need to stop exposing ourselves to toxins and stop eating processed foods. Switching to a healthy diet and regularly fasting are two ways to accomplish this.

The second step, R2, requires us to regenerate cellular membrane function that has been destroyed by toxins. When the cellular membrane functions as desired, waste products can finally leave cells and raw materials can enter. Another advantage of repairing cellular membrane function is that our hormone receptors can regain their function, counteracting hormone resistance that drives obesity.20 

R3 is the third step of the process and is based on restoring energy production within the cells. By optimizing mitochondrial ATP production, we are able to produce adequate levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that aids in detoxification.21 

R4 is the fourth step of the process and is based on downregulating the cellular membrane inflammation that stubbornly remains due to the NO/ONOO cycle.22

Finally, R5 is required to restore normal methylation patterns and optimize epigenetic expression by utilizing methyl donors. When we turn off the genes that code for obesity, we optimize our metabolism.23

Processed Foods And Toxins Are Driving The Obesity Crisis

Processed foods and toxins are the two major contributors to the obesity crisis. In addition to avoiding processed foods and minimizing exposure to toxins, we must up regulate cellular function to remove the accumulated toxins that are driving both inflammation and hormone resistance which leads to obesity. 

To learn even more about this phenomenon, join me in my free webinar or read more about which foods to avoid to lose weight.


1 Kharrazian D. Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Autoimmune Conditions. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2021 Apr;20(2):20-24. PMID: 34377090; PMCID: PMC8325494.

2 Chiu K, Warner G, Nowak RA, Flaws JA, Mei W. The Impact of Environmental Chemicals on the Gut Microbiome. Toxicol Sci. 2020 Aug 1;176(2):253-284. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfaa065. PMID: 32392306; PMCID: PMC7416318.

3 Tiffon C. The Impact of Nutrition and Environmental Epigenetics on Human Health and Disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Nov 1;19(11):3425. doi: 10.3390/ijms19113425. PMID: 30388784; PMCID: PMC6275017.

4 Zanfirescu A, Ungurianu A, Tsatsakis AM, Nițulescu GM, Kouretas D, Veskoukis A, Tsoukalas D, Engin AB, Aschner M, Margină D. A review of the alleged health hazards of monosodium glutamate. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2019 Jul;18(4):1111-1134. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12448. Epub 2019 May 8. Erratum in: Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2020 Jul;19(4):2330. PMID: 31920467; PMCID: PMC6952072.

5 Clark MJ, Slavin JL. The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-11. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.791194. PMID: 23885994.

6 Albuquerque TG, Bragotto APA, Costa HS. Processed Food: Nutrition, Safety, and Public Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Dec 7;19(24):16410. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192416410. PMID: 36554295; PMCID: PMC9778909.

7 Cimmino I, Fiory F, Perruolo G, Miele C, Beguinot F, Formisano P, Oriente F. Potential Mechanisms of Bisphenol A (BPA) Contributing to Human Disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Aug 11;21(16):5761. doi: 10.3390/ijms21165761. PMID: 32796699; PMCID: PMC7460848.

8 Amato AA, Wheeler HB, Blumberg B. Obesity and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocr Connect. 2021 Feb;10(2):R87-R105. doi: 10.1530/EC-20-0578. PMID: 33449914; PMCID: PMC7983487.

9 Lazofsky A, Buckley B. Recent Trends in Multiclass Analysis of Emerging Endocrine Disrupting Contaminants (EDCs) in Drinking Water. Molecules. 2022 Dec 13;27(24):8835. doi: 10.3390/molecules27248835. PMID: 36557967; PMCID: PMC9781274.

10 Guillotin S, Delcourt N. Studying the Impact of Persistent Organic Pollutants Exposure on Human Health by Proteomic Analysis: A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov 17;23(22):14271. doi: 10.3390/ijms232214271. PMID: 36430748; PMCID: PMC9692675.

11 Panseri S, Chiesa L, Ghisleni G, Marano G, Boracchi P, Ranghieri V, Malandra RM, Roccabianca P, Tecilla M. Persistent organic pollutants in fish: biomonitoring and cocktail effect with implications for food safety. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2019 Apr;36(4):601-611. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2019.1579926. Epub 2019 Mar 12. PMID: 30862267.

12 Qi W, Clark JM, Timme-Laragy AR, Park Y. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Review of Epidemiologic Findings. Toxicol Environ Chem. 2020;102(1-4):1-36. doi: 10.1080/02772248.2020.1763997. Epub 2020 May 22. PMID: 33304027; PMCID: PMC7723340.

13 Margolis R, Sant KE. Associations between Exposures to Perfluoroalkyl Substances and Diabetes, Hyperglycemia, or Insulin Resistance: A Scoping Review. J Xenobiot. 2021 Sep 14;11(3):115-129. doi: 10.3390/jox11030008. PMID: 34564296; PMCID: PMC8482218.

14 Liu BN, Liu XT, Liang ZH, Wang JH. Gut microbiota in obesity. World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Jul 7;27(25):3837-3850. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i25.3837. PMID: 34321848; PMCID: PMC8291023.

15 Samblas M, Milagro FI, Martínez A. DNA methylation markers in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and weight loss. Epigenetics. 2019 May;14(5):421-444. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2019.1595297. Epub 2019 Mar 27. PMID: 30915894; PMCID: PMC6557553.

16 Elkin ER, Higgins C, Aung MT, Bakulski KM. Metals Exposures and DNA Methylation: Current Evidence and Future Directions. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2022 Dec;9(4):673-696. doi: 10.1007/s40572-022-00382-4. Epub 2022 Oct 25. PMID: 36282474; PMCID: PMC10082670.

17 Menezo Y, Clement P, Clement A, Elder K. Methylation: An Ineluctable Biochemical and Physiological Process Essential to the Transmission of Life. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Dec 7;21(23):9311. doi: 10.3390/ijms21239311. PMID: 33297303; PMCID: PMC7730869.

18 Furman D, Campisi J, Verdin E, Carrera-Bastos P, Targ S, Franceschi C, Ferrucci L, Gilroy DW, Fasano A, Miller GW, Miller AH, Mantovani A, Weyand CM, Barzilai N, Goronzy JJ, Rando TA, Effros RB, Lucia A, Kleinstreuer N, Slavich GM. Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span. Nat Med. 2019 Dec;25(12):1822-1832. doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0675-0. Epub 2019 Dec 5. PMID: 31806905; PMCID: PMC7147972.

19 Straub RH. Interaction of the endocrine system with inflammation: a function of energy and volume regulation. Arthritis Res Ther. 2014 Feb 13;16(1):203. doi: 10.1186/ar4484. PMID: 24524669; PMCID: PMC3978663.

20 Ammendolia, D.A., Bement, W.M. & Brumell, J.H. Plasma membrane integrity: implications for health and disease. BMC Biol 19, 71 (2021).

21 Zolkipli-Cunningham Z, Falk MJ. Clinical effects of chemical exposures on mitochondrial function. Toxicology. 2017 Nov 1;391:90-99. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2017.07.009. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28757096; PMCID: PMC6078194.

22 Pall M. L. (2013). The NO/ONOO-cycle as the central cause of heart failure. International journal of molecular sciences, 14(11), 22274–22330.

23 Dhar GA, Saha S, Mitra P, Nag Chaudhuri R. DNA methylation and regulation of gene expression: Guardian of our health. Nucleus (Calcutta). 2021;64(3):259-270. doi: 10.1007/s13237-021-00367-y. Epub 2021 Aug 16. PMID: 34421129; PMCID: PMC8366481.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. Information provided is for general purposes and not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your healthcare professional for medical concerns. About Dr. Pompa

Related posts