Chemical and non-chemical stressors affecting childhood obesity: a systematic scoping review

Childhood obesity in the United States has doubled over the last three decades and currently affects 17% of children and adolescents. While much research has focused on individual behaviors impacting obesity, little research has emphasized the complex interactions of numerous chemical and non-chemical stressors found in a child’s environment and how these interactions affect a child’s health and well-being. The objectives of this systematic scoping review were to (1) identify potential chemical stressors in the context of non-chemical stressors that impact childhood obesity; and, (2) summarize our observations for chemical and non-chemical stressors in regards to child-specific environments within a community setting. A review was conducted to identify chemical and non-chemical stressors related to childhood obesity for the childhood life stages ranging from prenatal to adolescence. Stressors were identified and grouped into domains: individual behaviors, family/household behaviors, community stressors, and chemical exposures. Stressors were related to the child and the child’s everyday environments and used to characterize child health and well-being. This review suggests that the interactions of chemical and non-chemical stressors are important for understanding a child’s overall health and well-being. By considering these relationships, the exposure science research community can better design and implement strategies to reduce childhood obesity.