The relationship of obesity with lifestyle and dietary exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals

Food Chem Toxicol. 2020 Feb;136:110983. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2019.110983. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Phytoestrogens are natural components of plants, including numerous foods that form part of the habitual diet of humans and animals. They have similar estrogenic effects to those of synthetic endocrine disrupters such as monomers of plastic materials, e.g., polycarbonates and epoxy resins. The most frequently used monomer is bisphenol A (BPA), which has been found to migrate from drink and food packaging, plastic baby bottles, and the coating of cans. Numerous studies have associated exposure to endocrine disrupters with obesity, classifying them as obesogens. The objectives of this study were to estimate the dietary exposure to phytoestrogens and BPA in a group of Spanish schoolchildren and to estimate their potential obesogenic effects. The diet of this population of healthy Spanish children was estimated to have a mean total estrogenic capacity of 5.10-12 M eq.E2 (5 pmol/day). The effects of this additional estrogenic burden are highly controversial, and no definitive conclusion has been reached. Thus, some authors consider exposure to these substances with estrogenic activity to be positive at certain stages of life, whereas others regard it as posing a risk at any age. In the present population of children, the likelihood of normal weight versus obesity was significantly related to the total proliferative effect (OR = 0.51, p = 0.026) as well as to the energy expenditure on physical activity, with lesser activity implying a greater risk of obesity (OR = 13.54, p = 0.001). Further research is warranted on the obesogenic effects of exposure to endocrine disruptors present in foods.

Keywords: BPA exposure; Obesogenic effects; Phytoestrogens exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Benzhydryl Compounds / analysis*
  • Child
  • Dietary Exposure / analysis*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Phytoestrogens / analysis*
  • Spain


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Phenols
  • Phytoestrogens
  • bisphenol A