Time to Consider the "Exposome Hypothesis" in the Development of the Obesity Pandemic
Victoria Catalán 1 2 3 , Iciar Avilés-Olmos 4 , Amaia Rodríguez 1 2 3 , Sara Becerril 1 2 3 , José Antonio Fernández-Formoso 2 , Dimitrios Kiortsis 5 , Piero Portincasa 6 , Javier Gómez-Ambrosi 1 2 3 , Gema Frühbeck 1 2 3 7
The obesity epidemic shows no signs of abatement. Genetics and overnutrition together with a dramatic decline in physical activity are the alleged main causes for this pandemic.
While they undoubtedly represent the main contributors to the obesity problem, they are not able to fully explain all cases and current trends. In this context, a body of knowledge related to exposure to as yet underappreciated obesogenic factors, which can be referred to as the "exposome", merits detailed analysis.
Contrarily to the genome, the "exposome" is subject to a great dynamism and variability, which unfolds throughout the individual's lifetime. The development of precise ways of capturing the full exposure spectrum of a person is extraordinarily demanding.
Data derived from epidemiological studies linking excess weight with elevated ambient temperatures, in utero, and intergenerational effects as well as epigenetics, microorganisms, microbiota, sleep curtailment, and endocrine disruptors, among others, suggests the possibility that they may work alone or synergistically as several alternative putative contributors to this global epidemic.
This narrative review reports the available evidence on as yet underappreciated drivers of the obesity epidemic. Broadly based interventions are needed to better identify these drivers at the same time as stimulating reflection on the potential relevance of the "exposome" in the development and perpetuation of the obesity epidemic.