Early-life chemical exposures and risk of metabolic syndrome
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The global prevalence of obesity has been increasing at a staggering pace, with few indications of any decline, and is now one of the major public health challenges worldwide. While obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS) have historically thought to be largely driven by increased caloric intake and lack of exercise, this is insufficient to account for the observed changes in disease trends. There is now increasing evidence to suggest that exposure to synthetic chemicals in our environment may also play a key role in the etiology and pathophysiology of metabolic diseases. Importantly, exposures occurring in early life (in utero and early childhood) may have a more profound effect on life-long risk of obesity and MetS. This narrative review explores the evidence linking early-life exposure to a suite of chemicals that are common contaminants associated with food production (pesticides; imidacloprid, chlorpyrifos, and glyphosate) and processing (acrylamide), in addition to chemicals ubiquitously found in our household goods (brominated flame retardants) and drinking water (heavy metals) and changes in key pathways important for the development of MetS and obesity.
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