Your Cell Phone Might Be Making You Fat

By Dana Leigh Smith

While it’s true that sitting around playing Candy Crush isn’t going to help you lose weight, researchers from the University of Houston recently reported that your cell phone, tablet and other electronic devices may actually hinder your battle against the bulge—but not for the reason you might expect.

As it turns out, the flame retardants that keep our devices from overheating and catching fire can get into the air we breathe and cause us to pack on the pounds. Scary, we know!

To come to this finding, the researchers divided a group of sibling zebrafish into two groups. One group was exposed to low concentrations of BPAs, TBBPA and TCBPA, the same flame retardants used in electronics. The other group served as controls, and all the fish were fed identical diets. After just one month, the team found that the zebrafish exposed to the BPAs had a much higher BMI and a greater accumulation of fat cells than the control group. The researchers hypothesize that TBBPA and TCBPA activate a hormone receptor that converts stem cells into fat cells. Eek!

Although this study only looked at fish (zebrafish are transparent, making them a good choice for observing fat accumulation), previous BPA research indicates that these chemicals may be linked to obesity, so these findings definitely have merit. We recognize that in our modern, digital world it’s nearly impossible to escape these chemicals, however, the research team believes their study results may bring us closer to finding healthy, practical ways to limit our exposure. Eat This, Not That! will continue to track their research for updates.