Obesity and associated disorders are now a global pandemic. The prevailing clinical model for obesity is overconsumption of calorie-dense food and diminished physical activity (the calories in-calories out model). However, this explanation does not account for numerous recent research findings demonstrating that a variety of environmental factors can be superimposed on diet and exercise to influence the development of obesity. The environmental obesogen model proposes that exposure to chemical obesogens during in utero and/or early life can strongly influence later predisposition to obesity. Obesogens are chemicals that inappropriately stimulate adipogenesis and fat storage, in vivo either directly or indirectly. Numerous obesogens have been identified in recent years and some of these elicit transgenerational effects on obesity as well as a variety of health end-points after exposure of pregnant F0 females. Prenatal exposure to environmental obesogens can produce lasting effects on the exposed animals and their offspring to at least the F4 generation. Recent results show that some of these transgenerational effects of obesogen exposure can be carried across the generations via alterations in chromatin structure and accessibility. That some chemicals can have permanent effects on the offspring of exposed animals suggests increased caution in the debate about whether and to what extent exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and obesogens should be regulated.
© 2019 Nordic Association for the Publication of BCPT (former Nordic Pharmacological Society).