The Interplay Between Environmental Chemical Exposures and Obesity: Proceedings of a Workshop


Note: Proceedings contain the opinion of the presenters, but do NOT reflect the conclusions of the Health and Medicine Division or the National Academies. Learn more about the differences between Reports and Proceedings.

In March 2015, the Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine held a workshop to explore the role that chemical exposures may play in the development of obesity. The obesity epidemic that has gripped the United States and much of the developed world for the past several decades has proved remarkably resistant to the various approaches tried by clinicians and public health officials to fight it. This raises the possibility that, in addition to the continued exploration of consumer understanding and behavior, new approaches that go beyond the standard focus on energy intake and expenditure may also be needed to combat the multifactorial problem of obesity. The speakers at the workshop discussed evidence from both studies with animal models and human epidemiological studies that exposure to environmental chemicals is linked both to weight gain and to glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and other aspects of the metabolic syndrome. After hearing about the present state of the science of environmental exposures and obesity, the speakers discussed future research needs and offered suggestions for policies that could reduce the health and human costs of the current epidemic of obesity. This workshop, The Interplay Between Environmental Exposures and Obesity, was one in a series of workshops focused on current and emerging environmental issues and their impacts on human health. This Proceedings of a Workshop is a summary and synthesis of the presentations and discussions that took place during the 2 days of the workshop.