An integrated approach to assess the role of chemical exposure in obesity

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Jun;21(6):1084-5. doi: 10.1002/oby.20478.


The evidence that developmental exposure of humans to chemicals plays a role in onset of obesity is convincing, yet controversial as it challenges traditional views on the etiology of obesity. OBELIX, one of the largest pan-European studies researching the obesogen hypothesis, is accruing experimental and epidemiologic data on major classes of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in both laboratory animal and prospective human cohort studies. Though still underway, this integrated and multidisciplinary project is adding new insights to the weight of evidence for effects of EDCs on obesity. Animal studies indicate divergent sex-specific effects of perinatal exposure on the development of overweight. In vitro mechanistic studies have shown that EDCs enhance murine adipocyte differentiation, an effect that is accompanied by global DNA demethylation. Epidemiological studies have revealed an inverse relationship between prenatal polychlorinated biphenyl exposure and birth weight, and suggest differences in pre- and postnatal exposure on growth trajectories in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Birth Weight / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls