Obesity prevalence has more than doubled globally within the last 30 years and obesity affects quality of life as well as impacts the risks and prognosis for a number of serious diseases. Established causes include a high calorie diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle, but these do not fully explain the epidemic. Evidence from animal experiments suggests that exposure to endocrine disruptors such as PCBs is associated with the development of obesity but our knowledge of the effects of these compounds on weight gain in humans is limited. Our objective was to investigate the association between exposure to PCBs experienced by a general Danish population and abdominal obesity. Adipose tissue was collected upon enrolment of 245 randomly selected persons from a prospective cohort of 57,053 persons enrolled between 1993 and 1997. Abdominal obesity was quantified using self-reported waist circumference 5 years after enrolment. We examined ten polychlorinated biphenyl congeners (PCBs) as potential determinants. All PCBs included were positively associated with increased abdominal circumference, although this association was not significant. These data do not support the hypotheses of a link between PCBs and waist circumference as suggested by laboratory evidence. More work is needed to fully elucidate the role of compounds such as PCBs in the present obesity epidemic.
Journal of Environmental and Occupational Science, 2013, Vol 2, Issue 3, p. 141-148