Endocrine disrupting chemicals during diet-induced weight loss - A post-hoc analysis of the LOWER study

Environ Res. 2021 Jan;192:110262. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110262. Epub 2020 Oct 10.


The link between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the rapid increase in prevalence of obesity has recently been suggested. However, the magnitude and health impact of EDC exposure in at-risk populations remain largely unclear. In this study, we investigated the effect of a dietary intervention driven reduction in adipose tissue on the magnitude of urinary EDC exposure and mobilization, and whether higher EDC exposure leads to impaired weight loss in obese individuals. In this post-hoc analysis of the Lifestyle, OverWeight, Energy Restriction (LOWER) study from the Netherlands, 218 subjects were included. Five parabens, three bisphenols and thirteen metabolites of eight phthalates were measured in 24-h urine using LC-MS/MS, before and after three-months of a calory-restricted weight reduction intervention program. Associations between adiposity-related traits and EDCs were tested using multivariable linear regression and linear mixed effects models. A multiple testing correction based on the false discovery rate (FDR) was applied. After the 3-month intervention, urinary paraben and bisphenol excretions remained similar. Excretions of mono-butyl phthalates and most high-molecular-weight phthalates decreased, whereas mono-ethyl phthalate increased (all FDR<0.05). A reduction in adipose tissue was not associated with higher urinary EDC excretions. Higher baseline EDC excretions were associated with higher post-intervention body-mass index (methyl-, propylparaben), waist circumference (propylparaben, mono-n-butyl phthalate, mono-benzyl phthalate), and body fat percentage (mono-ethyl phthalate, mono-benzyl phthalate). Associations between parabens and body-mass index, and mono-benzyl phthalate and waist circumference and body fat percentage remained after multiple testing correction (all FDR<0.05). In a study of obese participants, we observed a reduction in most phthalates after a weight reduction intervention. A reduction in adipose tissue may not lead to mobilization and successively to higher urinary EDC excretions. Higher baseline paraben and phthalate exposures were associated with reduced weight loss, suggesting obesogenic properties.

Keywords: Diet-induced weight loss; Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Intervention; Obesity; Obesogenic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Diet
  • Endocrine Disruptors*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Netherlands
  • Phthalic Acids*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Weight Loss


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phthalic Acids