Is your breakfast making you fat?

Is your breakfast making you fat?

Ever heard of butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)? Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)? Tributyltin (TBT)?

While the names of these chemicals might not seem familiar, they’re commonly found in food and food-related products such as cookware. One of the most common places you can find one of these chemicals, BHT, is in cereal. While the chemical keeps cereal from spoiling easily, companies such as General Mills have announced their intentions to rid their products of the ingredient.


New research has discovered these chemicals can interfere with satiety signals from your brain. These are the signals which tell you when you’re no longer hungry.

Researchers took stem cells from participants and then grew the tissue that lines the stomach as well as the tissue around the brain’s hypothalamus region. When exposing both tissues to BHT, PFOA and TBT, researchers discovered the chemicals damaged the hormones which help communicate between stomach and brain. Thus, reducing your ability to recognize when you’re full, leading you to overeat.

While BHT had the strongest effects, PFOA and TBT still proved to be damaging. PFOA is found in some cookware, and TBT is typically found in paint, which can sometimes be found in water and end up in seafood.

Obesity is currently the number one preventable death in the United States,” says Dr. Mary Ellen Moore, a family medicine physician with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “This research could help in understanding this epidemic and how to further combat against it.”

Until further research is conducted and companies are more active in removing these chemicals from their products, Dr. Moore recommends you read packaging labels carefully, especially on cereals and foods with lots of fats and oils.

You should also aim to reduce BHA from your diet, or butylated hydroxyanisole, which is often the related compound associated with BHT. BHA is typically found in potato chips, butter, baked goods, chewing gum and instant mashed potatoes.

BHT, BHA, PFOA and TBT are believed to be safe in low doses, so it’s okay if you can’t eliminate them completely from your diet. But there are plenty of foods available without them today.

While it would be impossible to list all the foods without these chemicals, Dr. Moore says the best rule of thumb is to stay away from highly preserved foods, as BHT is usually found in the packaging.

For more potentially harmful items you might want to consider removing from your house, read here.

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  1. But, wait, I thought that those who eat breakfast were found, in scientific studies, to eat less than those who didn’t eat breakfast? But if these chemicals actually do interfere with satiety signals, that would mean that breakfast eaters would eat more. So which is it and what are we to believe? Why is it that every nutritional study contradicts the study before it, and why do we listen to all of these studies anyway?

  2. Years ago my Mother told me to eat all food in moderation. I still follow that advice. She was a registered Nurse and died at the age of 102. Another suggestion read everything with a grain of salt.

  3. Dr. Moore points those additives from General Mills but not a word on their bigger additive;
    TSP (Trisodiumphosphate) that was banned back in the 70’s in Cook County because it destroyed plumbing, etc. I was told about it because someone put on fb and specifically Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It then made sense why our cereal bowls had the finish etched of and stained. Years I spent at GI doctor because of stomach pain and when I stopped ingesting this poison, my stomach is healing now. They put in Cheerios and babies are eating this poison. TSP was used to remove wall paper glue. Boycott General Mills!!!

  4. I agree with you Dienne. I’m really sick of reading these studies. I think we’ll all be safe if we eat in moderation, which is the only study that seems to be consistent.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.