Associations Between Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants in Childhood and Overweight Up to 12 Years Later in a Low Exposed Danish Population

Obes Facts. 2015;8(4):282-92. doi: 10.1159/000438834. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Background: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have metabolic disrupting abilities and are suggested to contribute to the obesity epidemic. We investigated whether serum concentrations of POPs at 8-10 years of age were associated with subsequent development of overweight at age 14-16 and 20-22 years.

Methods: The study was based on data from the European Youth Heart Study, Danish component (1997). Concentrations of several polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the organochlorine pesticides p,p-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) were measured in serum from children aged 8-10 years (n = 509). Information on BMI z-scores, waist circumference and % body fat were collected at clinical examinations at ages 8-10, 14-16 and 20-22 years. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed taking potential confounders into account.

Results: Overall, POP serum concentrations were low: median ΣPCB 0.18 µg/g lipid, DDE 0.04 µg/g lipid and HCB 0.03 µg/g lipid. POPs were generally not associated with weight gain at 14-16 and 20-22 years of age, except for an inverse association among the highest exposed girls at 20-22 years of age, which might possibly be explained by multiple testing or residual confounding.

Conclusion: This study suggests that, in a low exposed population, childhood serum concentrations of PCB, DDE, and HCB are not associated with subsequent weight gain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Denmark
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / adverse effects
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hexachlorobenzene / adverse effects
  • Hexachlorobenzene / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / adverse effects
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / chemically induced*
  • Organic Chemicals / adverse effects*
  • Overweight / chemically induced*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls