Abdominal obesity appears to be an important component of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), in which along with insulin resistance, hypertension and dyslipidaemia represents an increased risk for developing cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The aetiology of obesity and its comorbidities is multifactorial, but despite the evidence of traditional contributing factors, the role of environmental toxicants with endocrine disrupting activity has been recently highlighted. Indeed, even small concentrations of these endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have the ability to cause severe health damages. In this revision, we focused our attention on the mechanisms of action and impact of EDCs exposure as a contributor to the present epidemics of obesity and MetS.

The "environmental obesogens" hypothesis associates environmental EDCs to the disruption of energy homeostasis, with recent studies demonstrating the ability of these compounds to modulate the adipocyte biology. On the other hand, the distinct distribution pattern observed between two metabolically distinct AT depots (visceral and subcutaneous) and subsequent repercussion in the aggravation of metabolic dysfunction in a context of obesity, provides accumulating evidence to hypothesise that EDCs might have an important “environmental dysmetabolism” effect.

However, in addition to adulthood exposure, the perinatal effects are very important, since it may allow a change in the metabolic programming, promoting the further development of obesity and MetS. Therefore, additional research directed at understanding the nature and action of EDCs will illuminate the connection between health and the environment and the possible effects triggered by these compounds in respect to public health.

Keywords: Endocrine disrupting chemicals, metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes.
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