Dynamics of persistent organic pollutants in obese adolescents during weight loss

Environ Int. 2018 Jan:110:80-87. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.10.009. Epub 2017 Oct 26.


We have investigated the dynamics of various persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the serum of 94 obese adolescents (34 boys and 60 girls: age range 11-19years) before (0M) and after 5months (5M) of undergoing weight loss treatment. Six groups of POPs, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and its metabolites (DDTs), chlordane compounds (CHLs), hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), were detected in all samples in the decreasing order of median levels: DDTs>PCBs>HCB>HCHs>CHLs>PBDEs. Levels and patterns of POPs between boys and girls at two time-points were similar. DDTs (0M/5M; median: 31/42ng/g lw) and PCBs (0M/5M; median: 17/28ng/g lw) were the major POPs. PCB 153 (0M/5M; 33/34% of the sum PCBs) was the most dominant PCB congener, followed by PCB 138 (0M/5M; 31/31%) and PCB 180 (0M/5M; 13/12%), respectively. The most important PBDE congeners were BDE 47 and 153, although total PBDE levels were low and ranged between 0.63 and 0.88ng/g lw. In general, levels of POPs in the obese adolescents were lower than previously reported in Belgian adolescents and adults. Due to weight loss, serum levels (except PBDEs) increased significantly thereafter combined with a body weight decrease (from 4 to 42kg). Serum concentrations increased by 1-3.5% per kilogram weight loss and 1-2.5% per BMI z-score loss for most POPs. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the dynamics of POPs in obese adolescents during weight loss. Lipid-soluble contaminants were released from adipose tissue into the blood leading to redistribution into the body. Whether the increase in the internal exposure to POPs may adversely influence health remains to be determined.

Keywords: Belgium; Obese adolescents; PBDEs; Persistent organic pollutants; Weight loss.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Belgium
  • Child
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Pediatric Obesity / blood
  • Pediatric Obesity / metabolism*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Loss*
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Cholesterol