The incidence of childhood obesity has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions globally and there is an urgent need to increase our understanding of the impact of food contaminants on obesity development. The OBELIX project will examine the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in food plays a role in the development of obesity later in life. OBELIX proposes a multidisciplinary approach that combines epidemiology, neonatology, endocrinology, toxicology, analytical chemistry and risk assessment to address the objectives of the project: 1) To assess prenatal exposure in humans to major classes of EDCs in food identified as potential inducers of obesity (i.e. dioxins, non- and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls, brominated flame retardants, phthalates and perfluorinated alkyl acids) using mother-child cohorts from four European regions with different food contaminant exposure patterns; 2) To relate early life exposure to EDCs with clinical markers, novel biomarkers and health effect data related to obesity; 3) To perform hazard characterization of in utero exposure to EDCs for the development of obesity later in life, using dose-response analysis in a rodent model; 4) To determine mechanisms of action of obesogenic EDCs on developmental programming with genomics and epigenetic analysis in in vivo and in vitro models; and, 5) to perform risk assessment of prenatal exposure to obesogenic EDCs in food, by integrating maternal exposure through food, contaminant exposure and health effect data in children, and hazard data. The outcomes of OBELIX are of particular relevance to the Work Programme, as the proposed project will generate new knowledge about prenatal exposure to major classes of EDCs in food that are potential inducers of obesity and related metabolic diseases later in life. It will also contribute new knowledge about effects of early exposure to EDCs on human health, including causality in animal models and possible mechanisms.
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