Exposure to environmental phthalates during preschool age and obesity from childhood to young adulthood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Obesity rates are increasing globally, and recent theories suggest that phthalates may contribute to obesity development. This longitudinal study aimed to investigate associations between environmental phthalate exposure during childhood and obesity, utilizing data from 100 participants from a Swedish birth cohort. The participants were followed repeatedly from birth and provided spot urine samples at 4 years. Weight and height were measured at ages 4, 8, 16 and 24 years, as well as additional anthropometric indices at 24 years. Urine samples were analysed for 10 phthalate metabolites using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Generalized estimating equation models were performed to assess overall and age-specific associations between urinary phthalate concentrations and BMI groups; thin/normal weight vs overweight/obese. After adjustment for potential confounders, overall associations were observed for diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) metabolites mono(oxo-isononyl) phthalate (MOiNP) (OR per increase ng/ml: 1.18; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.33), mono(carboxy-isooctyl) phthalate (MCiOP) (OR: 1.06; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.11) and ∑DiNP (OR: 1.02; 95% CI:1.00, 1.04) and development of overweight/obesity up to age 24 years. Age-specific associations were observed for the same metabolites at 8, 16 and 24 years. Furthermore, linear regression analysis revealed associations between increased body fat % at age 24 years and MHiNP (β: 2.42; 95% CI: 0.44, 4.39), MOiNP (β: 2.32; 95% CI: 0.46, 4.18), MCiOP (β: 2.65; 95% CI: 0.41, 4.89) and ∑DiNP (β: 2.65; 95% CI: 0.52, 4.77). These findings suggest that DiNP exposure during preschool age may be associated with subsequent obesity, however these findings need to be corroborated by further research.


  • Anna Zettergren
  • Niklas Andersson
  • Kristin Larsson
  • Inger Kull
  • Erik Melén
  • Antonios Georgelis
  • Marika Berglund
  • Christian Lindh
  • Anna Bergström
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Södersjukhuset
  • Stockholm County Council
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • Childhood exposure, DINP, Longitudinal study, Obesity, Phthalates
Original languageEnglish
Article number110249
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch