While health experts and non-experts alike continue to take stabs at the solution to our nation’s obesity crisis, the answer still seems rather illusive.
Some say we need more exercise. Others suggest we need less food. Still others contend we need incentives and rewards to get off our duffs and lose the weight. But perhaps the answer is as simple as what’s in our lunch.
New research from the Norwegian School of Veterinary science is pointing the fat finger at genetically modified organisms, a term we now affectionately know as GMOs.
Researchers are suggesting that while GM foods may not be directly making us sick, they might be causing weight gain which can in turn contribute to illnesses.
To conduct the 90-day study, researchers studied how rats and salmon responded to genetically modified food. One group of rats was fed GM corn and scientists watched as they slowly got fatter than the group that was being fed non-GM foods. Researchers also noticed that the GMO rats ate more and grew faster.
A corresponding study examined how salmon reacted to GM foods by feeding one group GM food and another non-GM food. The result? The salmon that consumed GM foods experienced a number of adverse effects including weight gain, higher food consumption, and the inability to properly digest protein. They also developed a different intestinal microstructure and even saw changes in their immune systems.
In other words, the results didn’t come back in favor of GMOs.
The Right to Know – a California-based organization pushing for the labeling of GM foods – has pointed out that independent studies have not only linked GMOs to increased allergies, but also asthma, autism and ADHD. And now that this research suggests they may also be making us fat, the pro-GMO argument just keeps getting dimmer.
While the fish and rats didn’t see any additional health problems as a result of the GM foods, Ashild Krogdahl – one of the lead authors of the study – explained to the ScienceNordic that the evidence is still troubling. “If the same effect applies to humans, how would it impact people eating this type of corn over a number of years, or even eating meat from animals feeding on this corn? I don’t wish to sound alarmist,” she said, “but it is an interesting phenomenon and worth exploring further.”
Jeffrey Smith of the Institute from Responsible Technology feels strongly that GMOs could potentially be causing weight gain in humans. “I have heard from people who stop eating GMOs that weight problems is one of the symptoms that improves or goes away,” he said. “One woman told me that with no other change in the diet, she lost 35 pounds, her husband lost 15, and her two kids 5 pounds each, just focusing on eliminating GMOs.”
Leah Segedie, founder of Bookieboo (an online health resource for moms) and leading figure in the fight against GMOs, tells of her own experiences with eliminating GMOs from her diet.
“I’ve lost close to 200 pounds over three pregnancies so far, but most of my life I spent overweight eating genetically modified foods. As someone who has come at it from both sides, I can testify that when I removed processed foods from my diet I lost quicker and was able to maintain my weight loss. About anywhere from 80-95 percent of processed foods have genetically modified ingredients inside of them,” she says. “Just look at the nutritional contents. If you seen corn, soy, cottonseed oil, canola oil, or sugar beets, chances are you are eating something genetically modified. And those ingredients are in about 80-95 percent of all packaged foods. Those ingredients will manipulate your metabolism, causing you to be hungrier and gain weight. As for me personally, I was only able to maintain my weight loss when I ate foods that were minimally processed or not processed at all. In fact, the minute I switched from shopping at Vons to Trader Joes (where the private label items are Non-GMO) I lost [weight] faster.”
If GM foods are in fact causing adverse effects in humans like these studies suggest, in our opinion, it’s just not worth the risk. Even if they aren’t banned entirely, people should at least have the right to know if the foods they’re consuming contain genetically modified elements. Hopefully California’s Proposition 37 vote, which takes place November 6 to determine whether or not GMO-containing foods will be labeled as such in California, will be just the push we need to make this hope a reality.