Are chemicals making us fat? ~ Professor Juliette Legler
Speaking about the summer event, Professor Legler said: “I was delighted to be invited to Belfast, to share my particular area of expertise with the public and find out more about the important work being carried out by PROTECTED’s team of next generation early stage researchers. I talked about the relatively new field of toxicology, summarised the evidence and uncertainties and discussed preventative strategies for reducing exposure to obesogenic chemicals.
“It’s a well-known fact obesity and childhood obesity with its related risk of serious health problems in later life is increasing worldwide and has become an epidemic. Prevention of childhood obesity, in particular is now a global political objective but exclusive focus on lifestyle modifications such as diet and physical activity to cure childhood obesity has not resulted in the expected reduction to the problem.
“Many factors play a role in obesity including the environmental. Recent evidence indicates exposure to environmental chemicals, including substances used in our everyday lives as well as additives in food and by-products of industrial processes, even cigarette smoke may play a role in increasing susceptibility to being overweight. Exposure to these so called ‘obesogenic’ chemicals, especially when these exposures are during early childhood development, can change the way the brain and body responds to food and exercise.
“The European Commission has responded to these new insights with a call for better testing strategies such as those being developed in PROTECTED, to determine if chemicals intended for introduction onto the European Market may promote obesity. “In addition, decision makers are including scientific evidence on obesogenic effects in setting safe limits for exposure to these chemicals. These actions will ultimately lead to decreased exposure to these chemicals. In the meantime, risk reduction measures can be taken, such as avoiding exposure to chemicals that are potentially harmful, especially during pregnancy.”
Speaking to Sunday Times Health Editor, Sarah Kate Templeton at the time of her visit Juliette added: “Exposure to these chemicals, especially when these exposures are during early childhood development, can change the way the brain and body responds to food and exercise. We know that animals, for example, put on more fat cells when they are given obesogenic chemicals during their development.”