In a scientific review paper published online on January 29, 2016 in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Amanda Janesick and Bruce Blumberg from the University of California, Irvine, U.S., discuss how exposures to obesogens, including certain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), may predispose a person or even his or her descendants for being obese. The authors highlight the early development as a particularly vulnerable stage, because the higher number of fat cells created during this period in response to adipogenic stimuli is found to persist into adulthood and “cannot be reduced by diet, exercise, or even surgery.” Thus, early adipogenesis creates an “altered metabolic set-point”, resulting in a higher prevalence of obesity and associated diseases later in life.

In light of this evidence, Janesick and Blumberg argue that doctors should do more to inform the patients, especially pregnant women, about the risks associated with obesogenic chemicals, as well as discuss strategies that could help reduce exposures. For example, one could give preference to regional organic foods carrying less pesticide residues and contaminants from food packaging. Notably, bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) and phthalates such as di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) have been implicated in etiology of obesity. The use of personal care products containing EDCs such as phthalates or parabens should also be minimized. The authors conclude that “counseling patients to avoid exposure to EDCs” is a “sensible strategy for protecting public health compared with waiting until the legal threshold is reached for triggering action to ban or restrict the use of particular chemicals.”


Janesick, A. and Blumger, B. (2016). “Obesogens: an emerging threat to public health.American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (published online January 29, 2016).