Age and Sex Differences in Childhood and Adulthood obesity association with phthalates: Analyses of NHANES 2007-2010

Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Atlanta, Georgia, 30341 USA
International journal of hygiene and environmental health (Impact Factor: 3.83). 07/2014; 217(6). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2014.02.005


Exposure to environmental chemicals may play a role in the development of obesity. Evidence suggests phthalate exposure may be associated with obesity in children and adults.

To examine the association of ten urinary phthalate metabolites mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP), mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP), mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP), mono-2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl phthalate (MECPP), mono-2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl phthalate (MEHHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP), mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP), mono-(carboxylnonyl) phthalate (MCNP), and mono-(carboxyoctyl) phthalate (MCOP) grouped by molecular weight of their parent compounds with body weight outcomes in children, adolescent and adult participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2010.

We performed multinomial logistic regression to analyze the association between obesity and urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations in children and adolescents and adults.

Low molecular weight (LMW) phthalate metabolites (MnBP, MEP and MiBP) are significantly (p < 0.05) associated with higher odds for obesity in male children and adolescents. High molecular weight (HMW) phthalate metabolites (MECPP, MEHHP, MEOHP, MEHP, MBzP, MCNP, and MCOP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) metabolites (MEHHP, MEOHP, MEHP and MECPP) are significantly (p < 0.05) associated with higher OR for obesity in all adults. Additionally, DEHP metabolites are significantly associated with obesity in all female adults; whereas DEHP and HMW metabolites are significantly associated with OR for obesity in males 60 years and older.

We found age and sex differences in the association between urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and body weight outcomes. Reverse causation cannot be excluded since overweight and obese people will have more fat mass, they may store more phthalates, thus leading to higher excretion concentrations.

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Available from: Melanie Buser, Jul 02, 2014
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    • "Similar results were evident in the case of phthalates [87] [88] [89] that interact with the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) [90], ligand-activated transcription factors. PPARs regulate genes important in adipocyte differentiation, adipogenesis and a number of metabolic processes, including lipid and glucose homeostasis [91]. "
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    • "Table 2 presents the results of human studies investigating the effects of phthalate exposure on obesity. Most epidemiologic studies examining the association between phthalate exposure and obesity have been based on the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)43,44,45,46). Regarding adulthood obesity, Stahlhut et al.43) demonstrated a positive association between urinary monoethyl phthalate (MEP), monobenzyl phthalate, mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxylhexyl) phthalate, and mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate and waist circumference (WC) in male adults, using data from NHANES 1999-200243). "
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