On June 20, 2015 the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health published the “Parma consensus statement on metabolic disruptors”. Scientific experts from different disciplines, including endocrinology, epidemiology and toxicology, reviewed the state of the science on environmental chemicals’ role in the etiology of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases. In the article, the international scientists summarize issues of certainty, including the fact that metabolic diseases are increasing globally and that childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise. Further, they state that this increase cannot be attributed solely to genetic factors, nor overeating and lack of exercise. Moreover, the environmental component of metabolic diseases is multifactorial and includes, amongst several other factors, environmental chemicals. Especially during prenatal development such metabolic disruptors can lead to reprogramming that increases the risk for disease later in life. In the article areas of lesser certainty are also listed, as well as knowledge gaps requiring additional research, and recommendations as to how this research can be designed to answer relevant questions.

The authors also state that “we are underestimating the importance of metabolic disruptors in obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome because current research designs focus on studying one or a small subset of chemicals at a time, during limited windows of sensitivity in single tissues (including only one adipose tissue) and often only endpoints related to a single disease outcome per study.” The term “obesogen” is deemed too narrow to capture the full extent of potential effects, and therefore “metabolic disruptors” should be used instead.

Known metabolic disruptors include chemicals used in food contact materials, like bisphenol A, organotins including tributyltin, perfluorooctanoates and phthalates.

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Heindel, J. J. et al. (2015). “Parma consensus statement on metabolic disruptors.” Environmental Health 14:54-61.