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RES: Acting against endocrine disrupters: A path to explore urgently for the prevention of obesity and diabetes (ECOD Report)

Réseau Environnement Santé: PRESS RELEASE

Paris, 14 March 2012 - HEAL member Réseau Environnement Santé (RES – the French Network on Health and Environment) published the ECOD report which provides an overview of the available scientific evidence on the links between the obesity and diabetes epidemic and exposure to chemical pollutants.

We are now facing an epidemic of metabolic diseases.

The World Health Organization estimates that, by 2015, 700 million people will be obese. This is a 75% increase over 10 years. According to the French 2009 ObEpi study, 32% of those above 18, i.e. 14 million individuals, are overweight and 14.5%, i.e. 6.5 million(s), are considered obese. The proportion doubled between 1997 and 2009. Diabetes is one of the major consequences of obesity, although it also has specific causes. In France, the incidence of diabetes almost doubled between 2000 and 2008, affecting nearly 1.8 million people. In France, diabetes has an annual additional cost of 1 billion €. Since the 1980s, the importance of hygiene and diet measures has been systematically emphasized by public authorities as a means to combat obesity and diabetes, a too rich diet and a sedentary life style are considered the two main factors of the epidemic. But this policy is not succeeding in stopping the growth of metabolic diseases.

Chemical pollution appears to be an additional explanatory factor.

The report by RES "Evaluation of the link between chemical environment, obesity and diabetes (ECOD)" provides an overview of many scientific studies that highlight the disturbing action of diabetogenic and obesogenic chemical pollutants on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Among these substances are several organic pollutants that act by a mechanism of endocrine disruption. "Adipose tissue can no longer be considered solely as a storage place of caloric reserves. It must also be considered as an organ under hormonal control. As such, it is also likely to be the target of endocrine disruptors”, said Gilles Nalbone, research director Emeritus at INSERM and member of RES.

Prevention should also address chemical exposure

Presently, the chemical pollution/obesity/diabetes dimension is not featured in any of the national public health plans: the National Health and Environment Action Plan (PNSE) does not address food; The National Health and Nutrition Program and the Obesity Plan do not deal with chemical pollution. "Our report is intended to draw the attention of Health Authorities to this approach, which is still largely ignored: the data are now sufficient to consider chemical pollution as an additional approach in the struggle against the epidemic of obesity and diabetes," says André Cicolella, the spokesperson of RES, "it is also one more signal for the French and European legislators to act globally on endocrine disruptors." The protection of patients should also be addressed in terms of preventing their further exposure to obesogenic and diabetogenic substances. This should be the subject of recommendations by the French National Upper Authority for Health, in complement of the classical hygiene and dietary measures.

Additional information

Press release (RES) in French: Communiqué de presse (14 mars 2012) – Obésité/Diabète: ne plus sous-estimer les polluants chimiques

Full report in French: Evaluation du lien entre environnement chimique, obésité et diabète (Projet ECOD)

Last updated on 27 March 2012

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