Obesity is a growing problem, not only in developed countries but also in the developing world. Because obesity is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, reproductive disorders, and some common cancers, the global obesity epidemic is contributing to a major negative impact on human health.
In recent years, the hypothesis that environmental contaminants could contribute to the global obesity epidemic has become evident, and that was consistent with the findings from numerous animal and epidemiological studies presented at the “2nd International Workshop on Obesity and Environmental Contaminants”, which was held in Uppsala, Sweden, on 8–9 October 2015.
At the workshop 19 international scientists, leaded by the couple Lars and Monica Lind from the Group on Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, signed a statement to increase awareness of this important issue among scientists, regulatory agencies, politicians, chemical industry management, and the general public.
In the statement, published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, compelling scientific evidence that supported the hypothesis were summarized, and actions that could restrict the possible harmful effects of environmental contaminants on obesity were discussed. Following actions were recommended:
- Increase research initiatives and funding to further explore mechanisms associated with chemical obesogen-induced metabolic disruptions, to examine mixtures, and to use exposure levels relevant to those encountered by human populations.
- Educate physicians and other health care professionals regarding the effects of environmental contaminants on metabolism to increase the awareness of this problem, and how they could guide their patients, as well as the general population, to limit their exposure to these contaminants.
- Ensure that knowledge of obesogenic environmental chemicals is incorporated into regulatory and policy making.
- Demand that new chemicals that are to be released onto the market are tested in an appropriate fashion regarding their effects on metabolism.
- Demand that all chemicals included in consumer products are disclosed in order to increase public awareness of their use and to provide individuals with the information they need to avoid exposures.
- Find additional ways to increase public awareness about factors beyond caloric balance that are involved in obesity development, including the role of some environmental contaminants.
- Increase awareness about the potential of these exposures to generate effects in future generations. This action item should also include education on how to avoid exposure to these contaminants.