Study Links BPA In Urine To Obesity In Kids
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Scientists from the University of Michigan have found evidence indicating children with higher levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine are more likely to be obese and have adverse levels of body fat, according to a new report in the journal Pediatrics.
BPA is a synthetic plastics additive that has recently gained notoriety for its detrimental health effects, particularly in unborn and young children.
Based on analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2010, the Michigan researchers found higher odds of obesity and an unusual waist circumference-to-height ratio were linked to higher levels of BPA in urine samples taken from children 6 to 18 years old. The team did not find a connection between BPA and risk factors such as abnormal levels of cholesterol, insulin or glucose.
“Our study suggests a possible link between BPA exposure and childhood obesity,” said study author Dr. Donna Eng. “We therefore need more longitudinal studies to determine if there is a causal link between BPA and excess body fat.”
“We were surprised that our study did not find an association between BPA and measures of cardiovascular and diabetes risk, which has been established among adults,” noted co-author Dr. Joyce Lee, assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the U of M School of Public Health. “Based on these results, BPA may not have adverse effects on cardiovascular and diabetes risk, but it’s certainly possible that the adverse effects of BPA could compound over time, with health effects that only later manifest in adulthood.”
The new study adds to the mounting evidence suggesting the negative effects of BPA. While research into the additive is not considered conclusive, governments in Canada, the European Union and several states have already enacted bans on BPA in products commonly used by young children. In July 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared baby bottles could no longer be made with BPA. However, this restriction does not apply to other BPA-containing products that are not child-specific.
Experts say BPA’s chemical structure causes the body to recognize it as the hormone estrogen. Because it can bind to and turn on the same estrogen receptor as the sex hormone, doctors say it disrupts the body’s natural hormonal balance and can be particularly dangerous in the developing body of a young child.
Another study recently published in Pediatrics found other chemicals used to manufacture plastics called phthalates also have adverse effects on teenagers. Based on a long-term study of almost 770 young people between the ages of 12 and 19, study researchers found a connection between higher levels of the phthalate DEHP in urine samples and increased insulin resistance. The association was strongest among females and Mexican-American adolescents in the study.
While the researchers said the connection was not a cause-and-effect relationship, they suggested parents should consider opting for phthalate-free packaging such as wax paper or eating fresh foods that aren’t canned or packaged.