Child obesity is a public health crisis that disproportionately impacts Hispanic children. We propose a pilot study
of associations between perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) with weight lost among overweight/obese Hispanic
children who participated in a 10-week weight loss intervention. The focus will be on pre- vs. post-intervention
differences in body weight, blood pressure and serum lipids associated with pre-intervention PFAS exposure.
The results will have implications for identifying factors that modify weight loss in children, and will lay the
groundwork for a more definitive and larger investigation to be supported by an R01 application.
Our proposal addresses a critical research gap. Despite widespread exposure to PFAS among children,
experimental evidence of obesogenic effects, and a growing body of epidemiologic results suggesting
obesogenic effects, the impact of PFAS exposure on children’s weight loss has yet to be evaluated. Furthermore,
no studies have focused on PFAS and weight loss in a Hispanic population, which experiences a greater obesity
risk than non-Hispanic children. This proposal builds upon the Vidas Activas y Familias Saludables (VALE) study,
a culturally-tailored 10-week community-based weight loss intervention, which significantly reduced children’s
BMI, percent body fat, blood pressure and serum non-high density lipoproteins.
We will measure 12 legacy and emerging PFAS in VALE study blood specimens previously collected before the
weight loss intervention, as prospective predictors of the differences in body weight, blood pressure and serum
lipids. We expect that pre-intervention PFAS will correlate to changes in weight loss, blood pressure and serum
lipids. We will also estimate the prospective impact of simultaneous co-exposure to the mixture of 12 measured
PFAS. Finally, we will explore cross-sectional associations between PFAS and previously measured serum
biomarkers of metabolism, lipids, hormones and liver function in pre-intervention blood specimens.
Ours will be the first investigation of PFAS exposure and children’s weight loss, and the first US study of PFAS
and weight loss focused upon Hispanic youth. Successful completion of our project is ensured by the experience
of the team, who implemented the parent VALE study, and have the necessary expertise in epidemiology,
biostatistics, analytical chemistry and exercise physiology. The proposed pilot study is the first step in a long
term strategy to advance understanding of how exposure to environmental factors, including PFAS, affect weight
loss among children, to develop targeted interventions. These data will be used to develop an R01 application
to support a larger, more definitive and mechanistic future study to address this important biomedical research
gap regarding the obesogenic effects of PFAS on weight loss in children.