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Putative environmental-endocrine disruptors and obesity: a review

Elobeid, Mai Aa; Allison, David Ba,b,c

Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity: October 2008 - Volume 15 - Issue 5 - p 403–408
doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32830ce95c
Obesity and nutrition: Edited by Caroline M. Apovian and Jeff I. Mechanick

Purpose of review There has been a substantial increase in the prevalence of obesity in the last several decades. Recent evidence suggests that endocrine-disrupting chemicals, for example halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, may cause perturbations in endogenous hormonal regulation and alter other mechanisms involved in weight homeostasis, which may lead to weight gain by increased volume of adipose tissue. Synthetic chemicals derived from industrial processes are suspected to play a contributory role. Yet of the approximately 70 000 documented synthetic chemicals, few have been examined to determine their effects on the endocrine system.

Recent findings The present study examines prior laboratory, epidemiological and experimental research findings. Data demonstrate migration of endocrine disruptors in the environment and are beginning to catalogue their effects on adiposity. We present postulated relationships between these chemicals, their mechanisms of action, and the obesity epidemic.

Summary Endocrine disruptors may adversely impact human and environmental health by altering the physiological control mechanism. Obesity, which is known to increase medical costs and reduce quality and length of life, may be increasing as a function of endocrine disruptor exposure. This merits concern among scientists and public health officials and warrants additional vigorous research in this area.

aDepartment of Biostatistics, USA

bDepartment of Nutrition Sciences, USA

cClinical Nutrition Research Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Correspondence to David B. Allison, PhD, Section on Statistical Genetics, Department of Biostatistics, Ryals Public Health Building, Suite 414, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1665 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA Tel: +1 205 975 9169; fax: +1 205 975 2540; e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.