Common Chemical BPA Linked To Childhood Obesity
September 18, 2012

Common Chemical BPA Linked To Childhood Obesity

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

New research blames urinary bisphenol A (BPA) as an alleged associate to child and adolescent obesity.

BPA is a synthetic chemical banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from sippy cups and baby bottles, but not aluminum cans.

The authors suggest in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that BPA may have a link between obesity and children.

"This is the first association of an environmental chemical in childhood obesity in a large, nationally representative sample," lead investigator Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, said in a press release. "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."

Studies have shown that BPA disrupts multiple mechanisms of human metabolism that may increase body mass. Exposure to the chemical has also been associated with cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and infertility.

The investigators wrote that 92.6 percent of persons 6 years or older identified in the 2003 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey had high detectable BPA levels in their urine.

They said after analyzing dust, indoor and outdoor air, and solid and liquid food that 99 percent of BPA found in preschool-aged children is derived from dietary sources.

The team used a sample of nearly 3,000 children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 years old. They found children with the highest levels of BPA had 2.6 times higher odds of being obese than those with the lowest measures of urinary BPA.

About 22 percent of the participants with the highest levels were obese, compared with 10.3 percent of the participants with the lowest levels.

The researchers found that obesity was not associated with exposure to other environmental phenols commonly used in other consumer products.

"Most people agree the majority of BPA exposure in the United States comes from aluminum cans," Dr. Trasande said in the release. "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."

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a statement today in response to the  JAMA article, claiming there is no proof BPA is linked to obesity in children. Read that article here.