The obesity epidemic is nothing new, but controversial new science is looking beyond the obvious reason of increased caloric consumption.

Next week, in a show entitled "Programmed to be Fat?" the CBC's Nature of Things with David Suzuki examines the link between endocrine-disrupting chemicals and obesity.

The endocrine system is a complex network of glands and hormones that regulates many of the body's functions, including growth, development and maturation, as well as the way various organs operate. Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals that when absorbed into the body either mimic or blocks hormones and disrupt the body's normal functions. Endocrine disruptors are all around us—in plastic, in cans, in the water we drink, in the food we eat.

The show tells the story of three scientists whose unexpected findings led them to follow the research of a curious doctor in Scotland, baffled by her inability to lose weight. For three years she pored over existing research on environmental chemicals and finally published a key study in an alternative medicine journal. It linked endocrine-disrupting chemicals to the obesity epidemic.

None of the scientists’ studies were about fat, but they had two things in common—they were all researching endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and they all ended up with unusually heavy lab animals.

"Programmed to be Fat?" airs January 12th at 8pm on the CBC.

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