Pesticide Exposures and Body Mass Index (BMI) of Pesticide Applicators From the Agricultural Health Study

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2015;78(20):1255-76. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2015.1074844. Epub 2015 Oct 19.


Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including pesticides, may be associated with weight gain. This is the first longitudinal study to examine a potential association between weight gain and pesticides using data on 8,365 male pesticide applicators from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) cohort established in 1993. The relationship between total cumulative days of exposure to pesticide functional/chemical classes and to the four most frequently used individual pesticides was studied in relation to body mass index (BMI) at the time of 5-yr follow-up (beginning in 1998) with the length of the exposure period dating back to age 20 yr. Multiple regression, Spearman correlation, ordinal logistic regression, and logistic regression models all utilized a Bonferroni-adjusted p value, were adjusted for relevant covariates, and were stratified by state of residence (Iowa/North Carolina) and presence/absence of weight-related health conditions. Adjusted multiple regression yielded statistically significant positive parameter estimates for the study sample and Iowa subgroups with consistent findings for triazine herbicides and atrazine: Change in BMI per 100 cumulative pesticide exposure days ranged from 0.07 to 0.11 for triazine herbicides and from 0.10 to 0.19 for atrazine. Ordinal logistic regression compared normal weight with overweight and with obese using the zero exposure category as referent. Statistically significant adjusted odds ratios identified for the study sample and both state subgroups for the highest level of atrazine exposure ranged from 1.4 to 1.7. Further investigation is warranted to evaluate the associations identified here.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Farmers*
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Pesticides