Blame DDT exposure…3 generations ago for your weight

The latest scare claims that exposure to DDT several generations ago is making people fatter today. The explanation sounds all “sciency” and impressive, but junkscience often does.

Study: DDT Exposure Linked to Obesity Across Generations

Researchers at Washington State University say the pesticide DDT makes the grandchildren of exposed people more susceptible to weight gain….In a new study published in the journal BMC Medicine, Skinner tested how exposure to DDT affected pregnant rats. But while the rates of obesity showed no difference in the first or second generations of rat offspring, in the third generation half of the rats were obese. Read more.

For Halloween, if your want to sharpen your junkscience detective skills, see how many tricks you can find in this open access research article.

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27 responses to “Blame DDT exposure…3 generations ago for your weight

  1. The chain of causation morphed into spaghetti quite a while back on this.

  2. I am sure that people in Africa especially would be happy to trade off obese grandchildren so as not to be affected by malaria in all 3 generations. This article also does not oultline the definition of “obesity”! Can they do a BMI on rats? It is a giant leap of faith to jump to any conclusions .The scientific method would also require them to study a cohort of people not exposed to DDT as compared to those who were, and follow them for at least the three generations. They would also have a dickens of a time with all the variables that can arise. I will have to plead ignorance here, for I am but a humble tooth doctor. How very droll that this is published on Halloween! Can my fellow Junksters elaborate further for us ?

    • Howdy toothdoctor
      I can’t expand on the science except to say that I agree with you and Our Host on how flimsy it seems. But I can do something about Halloween:
      How do you enter the haunted house? Through the scream door.
      Ghost applicants: fill out sheet.
      I know what a manual laborer is. Now please explain “oral surgeon.”

  3. This is a joke, right>

  4. Oh good!! I’ve got something to blame beside my love of Big Macs, French fries, Twix and Ice cream.

  5. Snorbert Zangox

    My mother was born and raised in small towns in the cotton-growing regions of the Southeast US. She has 8 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, none of whom is obese. Admittedly, that is a small number of subjects, but it illustrates the point of how many subjects of the appropriate generation are available and how easy it would be to find them.

    Of course, there is the complicating factor of the ongoing obesity epidemic that would make it difficult for the politically correct to differentiate between the obese who are victims of junk food and those are victims of DDT exposure. However, I feel confident that the marvels of modern epidemiology are up to the task.

    • Howdy Snor
      But all obese people are victims of either Big Food or Big Pesticide, except that they should be ashamed of themselves for eating “junk food” and drinking “sugary drinks”.

  6. It has been said of economists that they have reliably predicted nine out of the last five recessions. I’d say the epidemiology community is not far behind them for accuracy.

  7. If, by their argument, DDT is such a scourge, would these “researchers” rather we still had in addition to malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and typhus?

    • Excellent point. Like carbon dioxide coming from cars: would they prefer heaps of horse poop in the streets?

      • Hi, guys
        By the evidence available, yes, they’d prefer exactly that.

        • Many years ago, I worked with a fellow who grew up in a small town in Wisconsin in the early 1920’s. The streets were unpaved and in winter after a snow, a man came into the middle of town and plowed the snow to the sides of the street. Of course everybody used horses then and their droppings got plowed too. In spring when the piles of snow melted,, the odor was pungent and flies were everywhere. So were diseases,including undulent fever, among others.

          If those who wish for the ‘good old days’ had to endure that, they might reconsider.

          • Howdy mossrock
            Oh, no, Bobby Redford doesn’t plan to experience that. But he’s okay if it happens to you and me.

  8. Dosing pregnant rats at a certain time during gestation with 25mg/kg DDT makes generation 3 fat along with all other kinds of diseases? And what does this have to do with humans?
    In the early ’50’s, my hometown in Eastern NC regularly sprayed DDT for mosquito control as a fog. The trucks came down residential streets and all the kids on my street ran behind the trucks in the fog. A goodly number of us were also exposed to DDT used in agriculture. Most of us didn’t get malaria but some did in the late 60’s-early 70’s. I’ve noticed that a good many of us are losing energy, getting heavier and are showing increased mortality from all types of diseases. The second, third and fourth generations look increasing larger and some are showing signs of obesity.
    For my generation it must be the exposure to DDT, not multiple birthday syndrome, creating the problems. Well, there was later life exposure to BPA. And now there is increased obesity in later generation. Ain’t science wonderful? I’m sure there is a follow-up paper in there somewhere.

    • Ultimately exposure to DDT results in a 100% mortality rate!
      Of course then, so does exposure to carrots and brocolli.

  9. The Medical community and the weight loss industry have been unable to establish any demonstrable cause, effective treatment, or cure for obesity. They are grasping at a straw offered by the environmentalists here. It is far easier than having to admit to themselves that their models of obesity in humans are flawed. Re-examining your own assumptions is such a chore! You have to do it if your ideas don’t work, but that means admitting you may have been wrong in the first place. It comes down to a choice between success and ego.

    • “The Medical community and the weight loss industry have been unable to establish any demonstrable cause, effective treatment, or cure for obesity.”

      Not true. Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem work quite well when followed. It’s NOT rocket science.

      • Sorry, but your rocket science is false. In fact, a few years ago the FTC charged five of the largest commercial diet companies (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Diet Center, Nutri/System and Physicians Weight Loss Center) with deceptive advertising for making unsubstantiated claims about weight loss and long-term maintenance. The published studies of weight loss “success” all employ the same methods of bad science in order to market their diets to low information customers, which sadly today is a lot of people. But these companies have more money than anyone would believe and are some of the strongest lobbies and are enjoying bigger profits than ever courtesy of HHS.

        • And EPA charges coal plants with damaging the climate.

          Government action against someone is not evidence of anything.

  10. People are not rats, so extrapolating from those rat studies into human populations is one of the biggest tricks. Also those doses seem quite high to me. Did they demonstrate that *any* humans were ever exposed to doses that high? Just assuming there were those kinds of exposures because we have “an obesity epidemic” now is the tail wagging the dog. That’s trick number 2. Depending on how you define “obesity” you can get all kinds of crazy correlations, and don’t even get me started on BMI!

    I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. This is pure junk science and I didn’t even have to try to invalidate it.

  11. Richard Senturia

    I’m not a scientist, and don’t even play on on TV. But even as a non-scientist, I noticed a few idiocies in the scientific(?) paper.

    First was the sample size (Did they REALLY draw such dramatic conclusions from THIRTY rats?)

    and then at the VERY END, they gave the REAL explanation of why the paper was written, and the reason for their dramatic conclusions – which I can’t re-type because I’m laughing my ass off, so I copied it to make SURE in didn’t misquote them.

    “The degree that environmentally induced epigenetic
    transgenerational inheritance is involved in human obe-
    sity and disease etiology is not known. However, since
    the majority of chronic diseases have increased dramati-
    cally over the past decades, environmental exposures and
    transgenerational epigenetics will likely be a component of
    disease etiology to seriously consider in the future.”

    After conversion into plain English, it reads

    “We don”t know WHAT caused “what we think happened to our 30 rats”, but we know TWO things. First, using DDT to save 1,000,000 Africans from Malaria NOW “may” cause their 3rd generation offspring to be OBESE, although we’re not sure about that. Second, even though we just proved that don’t know our ass from first base about anything, it’s urgent that you give us GOBS more money to continue our research, which will help save the world from the evil Bill Gates and friends’.

  12. They’re still trying to justify keeping the deadly ban on DDT?
    Maybe someone should tell them that DDT works quite well for killing that resurgent pest the bedbug.
    Also kills the mosquitoes carrying heart-worm larva. Might even kill heart-worms without dosing the poor dogs with poison.

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