A study published in the September 19th edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association has raised concerns about a commonly used chemical, bisphenol A(BPA), and its link to obesity in children and teens.
BPA is an organic compound that is used in the manufacturing of everything from polymers and epoxies, to plastic bottles and aluminum cans. It’s been used in manufacturing since the 60’s. There are many concerns that BPA has negative effects on the endocrine system by essentially disrupting human metabolism. Other studies have associated BPA exposure to cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and infertility. It appears that the most significant current use of BPA is in aluminum cans as an anitseptic. The FDA continues to study BPA, but has not called for an outright ban. However, it has banned its use in sippy cups and baby bottles.
A study done by New York University School of Medicine has shown “significant association” between obesity in children and teens with higher levels of urinary BPA. According to their press release, “This is the first association of an environmental chemical in childhood obesity in a large, nationally representative sample,” said lead investigator Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine. “Our findings further demonstrate the need for a broader paradigm in the way we think about the obesity epidemic. Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity certainly contribute to increased fat mass, but the story clearly doesn’t end there.”
This was one of the most comprehensive studies done on the subject of BPA in children and teens and its correlation to obesity. It controlled for numerous factors such as, race/ethnicity, age, caregiver education, poverty to income ratio, sex, serum cotinine level, caloric intake, television watching, and urinary creatinine level. What the researchers found is that those who had the highest levels of urinary BPA were 2.6 times more likely to be obese than those with the lowest levels of BPA. They even took the testing a bit further to see if there may be other sources of BPA such as sunscreens and soaps. These proved to be insignificant sources.
“Most people agree the majority of BPA exposure in the United States comes from aluminum cans,” Dr. Trasande said. “This data adds to already existing concerns about BPA and further supports the call to limit exposure of BPA in this country, especially in children. Removing it from aluminum cans is probably one of the best ways we can limit exposure. There are alternatives that manufacturers can use to line aluminum cans.”
To read FDA statements regarding BPA, visit their website at http://www.fda.gov or download a PDF regarding the subject at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM297971.pdf.