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How common cleaning products could lead to childhood obesity

HOUSTON – A study from Canada said the disinfectants we're using in our homes could make kids fat.

In the past few decades, scientists say asthma, type 1 diabetes, obesity and other diseases are sharply on the rise among kids, so what's changed?

The study, which was only examining childhood obesity, finds that disinfectants are changing the bacteria in children’s gut and that may later lead to obesity.

It's very compelling research, according to Dr. Geoffrey Preidis, a pediatric gastroenterologist from Texas Children's Hospital. But he's not convinced.

“We still don't know what is causing that link, and it could be a lot of other things that were not accounted for,” Preidis said. “Specific types of cleaners, they might also encourage their children to run around outside and exercise as opposed to spending hours in front of a television or a screen.”

He does agree with one part of the study, he said: We may be too sterile.

“Several hundred years ago many of our ancestors lived on farms … there was no refrigeration, no electricity. So that is one of the key changes that many people are pointing to that could be driving this increased risk of certain diseases,” Preidis said.

He warns against living too dirty though, too, especially in the kitchen or bathroom where the deadliest germs exist. The challenge is finding the balance of bacteria we should live with.

One finding from the Canadian researchers is child obesity is less common in households that cleaned with eco-friendly products. However, Preidis is not ready to recommend certain products yet either.

“Again, too early to say,” he said.

Preidis said, for now, you should be adding more cultured foods to your diet to help create a healthy gut. Foods that have live bacteria like yogurt, kefir and kombucha may vary the gut microbiome enough to make us healthier humans.