UCSF Leads the 12th Annual SSEW Symposium: The Exposome & Metabolic Health

On September 19, 2018, the Sugar, Stress, Environment & Weight (SSEW) Initiative hosted the 12th Annual SSEW Symposium, “The Exposome & Metabolic Health.” The symposium centered around the topic of toxics and how exposures in our social, psychological, and physical environments can negatively affect our healthspan in the form of metabolic disease.

The event invited key researchers, healthcare providers, and environmental health and policy advocates from across the UC campuses to give Ted-style talks in a day-long conference that was open to the public. Speakers discussed the role of social relationships, chemicals found in everyday items like beauty and hair care products, and our food environments in encouraging negative health outcomes such as obesity and diabetes, breast cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.

Talks were given by the following notable experts and included the following topics:

  • Dr. Eve Ekman: a leading scholar and instructor of meditation and emotion regulation opened the day with a guided mindfulness meditation

  • Dr. Tracey Woodruff: Director of the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative, offered an overview on the field of toxic exposures and impact on health outcomes

  • Dr. Aric Prather: Professor and Co-Director of the Consortium for Obesity Study, Assessment, and Treatment at UCSF, discussed how social environments and relationships can produce stressors that mimic environmental toxins, a concept called “the social exposome”

  • Dr. Barbara Laraia: Professor at UC Berkeley, discussed the compounding impact of social inequality and environmental exposures on health

  • Dr. Jenny Jay: Professor and Researcher at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, providing perspective on processed foods and water use in impacting environment and public health

  • Dr. Dale Bredesen: UCSF/UCLA physician and leading expert on neurodegenerative diseases, discussed how environmental toxins may lead to Alzheimer’s disease

  • Wolfram Alderson, MS: a social impact innovator and expert, discussed how individuals can remove toxins from their personal ecosystems and respective communities

  • Dr. Michele La Merrill: Professor of Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis, reviewed clinical research on the link between pesticides and metabolic health

  • Dr. Bruce Blumberg, UCI: Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology and leader in the field of “obesogens,” or exposures that disrupt our endocrine systems and promote obesity

  • Dr. John Balmes: Professor at UCSF, gave insight into the link between air pollution and metabolic health

An expert panel examined health policy and next steps in a session titled “Understanding Policy Implications and Actions: Multiple Paths to Change.” The panel included the following key community leaders, who spoke of the robust personal and professional experiences that informed their unique perspectives:

  • Dr. Laura Schmidt: UCSF Professor, Co-Director of the SSEW Initiative, and expert on food policy and food environment

  • Lauren Zeise: Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)

  • Jeanne Rizzo: Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

  • Meg Schwarzman: UC Berkeley Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Lastly, to give members of the public a chance to ask their most burning questions, a live panel was conducted via Facebook Live and moderated by Dr. Elissa Epel, UCSF. The panel included the following members:

  • Dr. Tracey Woodruff, UCSF: expert on the effect of chemical exposures in pregnant women and how they impact the next generation

  • Dr. Kimberly Harley, UCB: expert on youth exposures to toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals through beauty and hair products

  • Dr. Martyn Smith, UCB: leading researcher in diet and how environmental exposures impact child health and produce cancers

  • Dr. Candice Price, UCD: key leader in examining high-sugar diets and how they lead to metabolic disease and obesity

Did you miss the event? Visit UCTV to watch live recordings of each talk here!