Context: Obesity and diabetes are epidemic in the European Union (EU). Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is increasingly recognized as a contributor, independent of diet and physical activity.
Objective: The objective was to estimate obesity, diabetes, and associated costs that can be reasonably attributed to EDC exposures in the EU.
Design: An expert panel evaluated evidence for probability of causation using weight-of-evidence characterization adapted from that applied by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Exposure-response relationships and reference levels were evaluated for relevant EDCs, and biomarker data were organized from peer-reviewed studies to represent European exposure and burden of disease. Cost estimation as of 2010 utilized published cost estimates for childhood obesity, adult obesity, and adult diabetes. Setting, Patients and Participants, and Intervention: Cost estimation was performed from the societal perspective.
Results: The panel identified a 40% to 69% probability of dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene causing 1555 cases of overweight at age 10 (sensitivity analysis: 1555-5463) in 2010 with associated costs of €24.6 million (sensitivity analysis: €24.6-86.4 million). A 20% to 39% probability was identified for dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene causing 28 200 cases of adult diabetes (sensitivity analysis: 28 200-56 400) with associated costs of €835 million (sensitivity analysis: €835 million-16.6 billion). The panel also identified a 40% to 69% probability of phthalate exposure causing 53 900 cases of obesity in older women and €15.6 billion in associated costs. Phthalate exposure was also found to have a 40% to 69% probability of causing 20 500 new-onset cases of diabetes in older women with €607 million in associated costs. Prenatal bisphenol A exposure was identified to have a 20% to 69% probability of causing 42 400 cases of childhood obesity, with associated lifetime costs of €1.54 billion.
Conclusions: EDC exposures in the EU contribute substantially to obesity and diabetes, with a moderate probability of >€18 billion costs per year. This is a conservative estimate; the results emphasize the need to control EDC exposures.