Weight loss relapse associated with exposure to perfluoroalkylate substances

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Objective: The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that perfluorinated alkylate substance (PFAS) exposures are associated with body weight increases in a dietary intervention study. 

Methods: In the DioGenes trial, adults with obesity first lost at least 8% of their body weight and then completed at least 26 weeks on a specific diet. Concentrations of five major PFASs were assessed in plasma samples from study baseline. 

Results: In 381 participants with complete data, plasma concentrations averaged 2.9 ng/mL and 1.0 ng/mL for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), respectively. A doubling in plasma PFOA was associated with an increase in weight at 26 weeks by 1.50 kg (95% CI: 0.88–2.11), with an increase of 0.91 kg (95% CI: 0.54–1.27) for PFHxS, independent of diet groups and sex. Associations for other PFASs were in the same direction and significant, although not after adjustment for PFOA and PFHxS. Weight changes associated with elevated PFAS exposures were similar to or larger than average changes ascribed to the different diet groups. 

Conclusions: Elevated plasma concentrations of PFOA and PFHxS were associated with increased weight gain that exceeded those related to the diets. Obesogenic PFASs may cause weight gain and thus contribute to the obesity pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1686-1696
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Obesity published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Obesity Society.

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