Join the discussion
UC experts will answer your questions about how environment, diet and social experiences affect human health during a Facebook Live event Friday, Sept. 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Watch and participate: https://www.facebook.com/universityofcalifornia/videos/1825644720864643/
Pop quiz: What do air pollution, pesticides, processed foods and chronic stress all have in common?
Answer: They are contributing factors to the exponential rise in obesity and related chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, that have become the leading health crises of the 21st century.
UC health experts will host a free, livestreamed symposium on Sept. 21 to talk about how our social, psychological and physical environments are creating metabolic disease. The research is part of a burgeoning new field that studies the exposome, defined as all the exposures an individual has in their lifetime. Scientists have begun assessing how even before birth, people are exposed to toxins in their environment, diet and social experiences.
These silent exposures seep under the skin and create disease and obesity while affecting our lifespan.
“We must raise awareness of how our air, our food and our social environments are impacting our health in dramatic ways, affecting us now and affecting the next generations,” said UCSF psychiatry professor Elissa Epel, Ph.D. “This symposium will cover critical new science and policy actions that are of interest to all, from students to scientists to our grandparents."
“Science shows that we are all exposed to multiple industrial chemicals, many of which are a concern for metabolic diseases," added Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., MPH, director of the event co-sponsor UCSF Environmental Health Initiative. "Pregnant women, children, communities of color and low-income communities can be more impacted by these exposures increasing the urgency to take actions to prevent harmful exposures.”
The symposium, “The Exposome and Metabolic Health,” is open to the public. It is sponsored by the Consortium for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment; the Sugar, Stress, Environment and Weigh Initiative; the UCSF Nutrition Obesity Research Center; and the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative.
A collection of accomplished speakers and panelists will discuss the far-reaching (yet often invisible) impact of social stress and environmental air and food toxins on obesity:
- Wolfram Alderson, M.S. on removing toxins from our personal ecosystems and communities
- John Balmes, M.D. (UCSF) on how air pollution impacts metabolic health
- Bruce Blumberg, Ph.D. (UC Irvine) on the role of exposures that disrupt our endocrine systems and promote obesity
- Dale Bredesen, M.D. (UCSF and UCLA) on how environmental toxins may lead to Alzheimer’s disease
- Eve Ekman, Ph.D., MSW (UCSF) on introductory level meditation instruction integrating environmental issues
- Jennifer Jay, Ph.D. (UCLA) on how processed foods and water use impact both the environment and public health
- Michele La Merrill, Ph.D., MPH (UC Davis) on clinical research on pesticides and metabolic health
- Barbara Laraia, Ph.D., MPH, RD (UC Berkeley) on why neighborhoods and stress have a major impact on obesity, especially during pregnancy
- Rachel Morello-Frosch, Ph.D., MPH (UC Berkeley) on the compounding impact of social inequity and environmental exposures on health
- Aric Prather, Ph.D. (UCSF) on how social stressors and relationships can act like environmental toxins, a concept called “social exposome”
- Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., MPH (UCSF) on an overview of the field of toxic exposures and their impact on health outcomes
In addition, a panel of experts led by Laura Schmidt, Ph.D. (UCSF) will explore relevant policy implications and actions. Panelists will include Lauren Zeise, Ph.D, (California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment), Jeanne Rizzo, RN (Breast Cancer Prevention Partners), and Meg Schwarzman, M.D., MPH (UC Berkeley).