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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Jun;21(6):1084-5. doi: 10.1002/oby.20478.

An integrated approach to assess the role of chemical exposure in obesity.

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Institute for Environmental Studies, Department of Chemistry and Biology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The evidence that developmental exposure of humans to chemicals plays a role in onset of obesity is convincing, yet controversial as it challenges traditional views on the etiology of obesity. OBELIX, one of the largest pan-European studies researching the obesogen hypothesis, is accruing experimental and epidemiologic data on major classes of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in both laboratory animal and prospective human cohort studies. Though still underway, this integrated and multidisciplinary project is adding new insights to the weight of evidence for effects of EDCs on obesity. Animal studies indicate divergent sex-specific effects of perinatal exposure on the development of overweight. In vitro mechanistic studies have shown that EDCs enhance murine adipocyte differentiation, an effect that is accompanied by global DNA demethylation. Epidemiological studies have revealed an inverse relationship between prenatal polychlorinated biphenyl exposure and birth weight, and suggest differences in pre- and postnatal exposure on growth trajectories in children.

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