Urinary triclosan concentrations are inversely associated with body mass index and waist circumference in the US general population: Experience in NHANES 2003-2010

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2015 Jun;218(4):401-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2015.03.004. Epub 2015 Mar 14.


Background: Humans are extensively exposed to triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent. Triclosan's effects on human health, however, have not been carefully investigated.

Objective: To examine whether triclosan exposure is associated with obesity traits.

Methods: This study included 2898 children (6-19 years old) and 5066 adults (20 years or older) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2003-2010 and had a detectable level of urinary triclosan. Multiple linear regression models were used to examine the association between urinary triclosan and both body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.

Results: Each standard deviation increase in urinary triclosan was associated with a 0.34 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.05, 0.64) kg/m² lower level of BMI (P=0.02) and 0.92 (95% CI: 0.09, 1.74)cm smaller waist circumference (P=0.03) in boys, and a 0.62 (95% CI: 0.31, 0.94) kg/m² lower level of BMI (P=0.0002) and 1.32 (95% CI: 0.54, 2.09) cm smaller waist circumference in girls (P=0.001); a 0.42 (95% CI: 0.06, 0.77) kg/m² lower level of BMI (P=0.02) and 1.35 (95% CI: 0.48, 2.22) cm smaller waist circumference (P=0.003) in men, and a 0.71 (95% CI: 0.34, 1.07) kg/m² lower level of BMI (P=0.0002) and 1.68 (95% CI: 0.86, 2.50) cm smaller waist circumference (P=0.0001) in women. In both children and adults, there was a consistent trend for lower levels of BMI and smaller waist circumference with increasing levels of urinary triclosan, from the lowest to the highest quartile of urinary triclosan (P ≤ 0.001 in all cases).

Conclusion: Triclosan exposure is inversely associated with BMI and waist circumference. The biological mechanisms linking triclosan exposure to obesity await further investigation.

Keywords: NHANES; Obesity; Triclosan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / urine*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Obesity / urine
  • Triclosan / urine*
  • United States
  • Waist Circumference*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Triclosan