- YouTube/Ice Cream Gainz
- A health and nutrition Instagrammer is being criticized for suggesting shampoo could be making people gain weight.
- Self-proclaimed “gut and hormone nutritionist” Eleni Chechopoulos wrote a post saying there are obesogens in products like “shampoo, toothpaste, grocery store receipts, shower curtains, makeup, perfume, and so. much. more.”
- Scientists have pointed out that there isn’t enough evidence to support this idea, according to The Guardian.
- Chechopoulos’ claims have been described as “madness” by nutrition therapist Ian Marber.
- Registered nutritionist Jenny Rosborough told Insider that the lack of regulation on social media is “the biggest problem.”
- Insider has contacted Chechopoulos for further comment.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A wellness influencer is being criticized for claiming shampoo could be making people gain weight.
Self-proclaimed “gut and hormone nutritionist” Eleni Chechopoulos from California uses the Instagram handle @keepyourkefi and has 11.3 thousand followers on the platform.
“Nutritionist” is not a protected term, but Chechopoulous does have a profile listing some qualifications on the Nutritional Therapy Association website.
However, the micro-influencer has received a slew of comments from the wider health and nutrition industry for one of her most recent posts.
“Is your shampoo making you gain weight?!” Chechopoulos asked, before going on to tell her followers that if they’ve tried everything to lose weight to no avail, it’s because of the obesogens she says are found in products like shampoo.
“Enter obesogens,” she wrote. “Chemicals that disrupt HOW your body creates and stores fat – found in shampoo, toothpaste, grocery store receipts, shower curtains, makeup, perfume, and so. much. more. “Even though you eat healthy and exercise every day, you still might battle the scale because of your SHAMPOO.” Chechopoulos went on to discuss a study conducted on rodents before promoting a “module” on “how to avoid obesogens” that she teaches to her clients. Her main advice is to “avoid antibacterials” found “in toothpaste, mouthwash, face wash, dish soap, deodorant, and makeup” as they may “disrupt your skin microbiome.”
She also advises avoiding anything with the word “fragrance,” MSG, and plastic water bottles. “Did you know that your makeup and shampoo could be one of the culprits behind your stubborn weight?” she added.
Chechopoulos then posted a second image with four more pieces of advice: replacing plastic tupperware with glass, refusing paper receipts, buying organic and grass-fed meat, and switching “from regular tampons to 100% organic cotton tampons, period underwear, or menstrual cups!”
Obesogens are yet to be researched in enough detail
Obesogens are chemicals that affect hormones, but they’re a relatively new area of research. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies, the term was only coined in 2006.
The idea is that some of these chemicals may have an impact on the hormones which control our weight, but most scientists are sceptical about this claim and believe more research needs to be done in the area.
Prof Richard Sharpe, a scientist at the Centre for Reproductive Biology at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh, told The Guardian last year that although it’s not yet possible to dismiss the notion completely, he “remains unconvinced” that chemicals could have any real effect on our weights.
He pointed out that many foods which are high in calories and easy to overconsume, like chocolate bars and chips, are often highly packaged (unlike whole foods like fruit or vegetables), and thus more likely to be exposed to supposed obesogens.
Prof Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, echoed this view: “Only a balanced diet and regular exercise will [make you a healthy body weight],” he told the publication.
Chechopoulos’ claims have been widely shut down
Qualified nutrition therapist Ian Marber, author of 13 nutrition books, told Insider that Chechopoulos’ comments are “madness.”
What she said is not entirely fabricated, he said, but she has wildly exaggerated the idea that chemicals found in these products could have any real impact on weight.
“There is a teeny grain of truth in that some chemicals may have a minor, tiny influence on hormones, but stretching it to suggest anything like she is suggesting is madness,” Marber explained.
— Ian Marber (@IanMarber) October 25, 2019
He believes Chechopoulos is doing nothing more than “fear-mongering,” which he said “disappointing.”
“Imagine suggesting that shower curtains can affect hormones and thus you will gain or fail to lose weight,” Marber added. “There is more than enough anxiety about health and nutrition without extending it to shampoo and grocery store receipts.”
Although Chechopoulos doesn’t have a huge following, Marber still believes micro-influencers of this scale can have a harmful effect on people.
“I worry that they inject anxiety and mistrust into a part of the population who maybe cannot tell the difference between legitimate health advice and posts that seem legitimate but are no more than someone else’s misunderstanding of science,” he said.
There’s not enough regulation on social media
Registered nutritionist Jenny Rosborough agrees that there’s an issue with the lack of regulation for people dispelling health advice online.
“We live in an environment which promotes the overconsumption of food and drinks high in calories, saturated fat, salt, and sugar through an increase in accessible ultra-processed products, industry tactics, and living conditions,” she told Insider.
“If we’re talking about shampoo, toothpaste, and receipts leading to weight gain – accompanied by ‘battle the scale’ type messaging – we’ve seriously lost our way.”
She added: “The biggest problem with insta-fabulous nutrition ‘experts’ is the lack of regulation.
“Hopefully in this instance common sense prevails but, just in case, my professional recommendation is to avoid eating shampoo, toothpaste, and receipts – but please continue to wash your hair and brush your teeth.”
Chechopoulos says she “just wanted to raise awareness”
When asked by Insider whether she had any repsonse to the criticizm she’s received, Chechopoulos said:
“My mission is to help women live healthier lives. I believe that health starts with the quality of the foods we put in our mouths and the products we use on our bodies.
“The problem we all face today is knowing which products are good for us and which are bad. I believe there are too many potentially harmful ingredients in daily products today.
“I’ve noticed many women use beauty products that have potentially harmful ingredients. A lot of women are unaware of these ingredients in their products.
”It’s my intention to encourage women to use products, shampoo or not, with fewer potentially harmful ingredients. At the end of my post, I provided a few of the many studies that show a correlation between these ingredients (BPA, phthalates, etc…) and their effects on our bodies. While I’m not aware of any currently published long-term studies, that doesn’t make this topic a myth.
”In my post, I just wanted to raise awareness and encourage women to use natural products with fewer chemicals and also to be conscious of the ingredients in products they use.”