Why are metabolic diseases increasing? An interview with Dr Carlos Guerrero Bosagna
Why are metabolic diseases increasing? One factor is the endocrine-disrupting chemicals called Obesogens, which are silently infiltrating our lives through bioaccumulation in our foods and omnipresence in our packaging. We interview Dr. Carlos Guerrero Bosagna, who is an Associate Professor at the Department of Organismal Biology, Physiology, and Environmental Toxicology at Uppsala University. Dr. Guerrero Bosagna is organizing a workshop during the upcoming summit called “Metabolic Diseases: from Chemical Exposure to Interventions”, and he offers insights to bridge the gap between genetics, nutrition, and physical activity in the fight against metabolic diseases.
Can you explain how endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or 'obesogens,' contribute to the increase of metabolic diseases?
"Although the mechanisms have not been completely elucidated, we have known for about 20 years now, in experiments with both cells and animals, that exposure to some endocrine disruptors induces metabolic disruption leading to obesity", says Carlos Guerrero Bosagna, Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Department of Organismal Biology, Environmental Toxicology, Uppsala University.
These chemicals bioaccumulate in organisms, including those for human consumption. Could you tell us about the potential risks associated with consuming contaminated seafood, vegetables, or other foods and how this can impact human health?
"Chemicals that can cause obesity are now widespread. They can be commonly found in the packaging of food items we consume every day. Examples include the inner layers of cans containing preserved food and cardboard containers for beverages like milk and juices. Additionally, many of the vegetables we purchase are now wrapped in plastic foil, also a source of these compounds. When buying takeaway food, it is common to come in hot plastic containers. This higher temperature further increases these chemicals' ability to dissolve into our food", says Dr. Carlos Guerrero Bosagna.
Many public policies on metabolic diseases focus on genetics, nutrition, and physical activity. How can we bridge this gap to develop better public health strategies?
"Yes, that is right. Most countries worldwide that have developed public policies against obesity have focused on its genetic component, restricting the consumption of some items, fomenting the consumption of others, and/or stimulating physical activity. All these aspects are certainly in the right direction. However, in many cases, it is observed that reduced consumption of calories has a limited effect, which might be due to the metabolism being reprogrammed due to exposure to obesogenic compounds. In my opinion, we need to translate what we know regarding the science behind obesogens to improve and complement existing public policies", says Dr. Guerrero Bosagna.
The workshop will gather experts from diverse backgrounds. What outcomes or recommendations do you hope to achieve from the discussion at the summit?
"The motto of this year´s UHS is From Reactivity to Proactivity. I want this workshop to live up to this motto, to come up with concrete suggestions and recommendations on how we can translate into public policy the evidence that environmental chemicals can produce metabolic diseases. Additionally, we will work on how these recommendations can truly reach the people in charge of elaborating public policies and regulations", says Dr. Carlos Guerrero Bosagna.