By: Martha Garcia | Published: September 21st, 2012
A new study suggests that there may be a link between childhood obesity and Bisphenol A (BPA), a controversial chemical that is commonly found in many plastic bottles and other consumer food containers.
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found evidence linking high levels of urinary BPA concentration with obesity in children and adolescents.
The national study examined 2,838 participants ages six through 19 years old, measuring their urinary BPA concentration. Researchers then correlated this number with the participants body mass index (BMI) adjusting for other factors as well.
The study found that children with the lowest urinary BPA measurements had a lower estimated prevalence of obesity and the children with the highest levels of urinary BPA were twice as likely to be obese. The association between urinary BPA concentrations and obesity was found among white children, but not among black or Hispanics.
BPA is used to manufacture a wide array of products ranging from dinnerware, drink containers, compact discs, automobile parts and even toys. Exposure to BPA comes from drinking liquids or eating food stored in containers that are manufactured with the chemical. It has been used in manufacturing in the United States since the 1960s and is found at some level in every American’s urine.
The latest findings will likely just add to the numerous concerns that have been raised over the side effects from BPA exposure. Many studies concerning the effect of BPA on humans have been performed relating to a wide array of findings. Research conducted at the West Virginia University School of Medicine found a link between levels of BPA and diabetes, indicating BPA may be a high factor in the cause of the disease.
Another study published this year in the journal Circulation found a link between high levels of BPA in the urine and a higher risk of heart disease later in life. Other studies done on the exposure and levels of BPA were linked to a lowered chance of a successful fertility treatment, hormonal changes, cancer and asthma. Other studies point to developmental abnormalities in infants and young children over time.
In spite of the many studies and research linking BPA exposure to adverse health effects the FDA denied a petition filed in 2008 to ban the chemical from food containers and drinking bottles. However, the April decision was followed in July by an FDA announcement to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.
Other countries have taken steps to ban BPA from food containers. Sweden announced a ban on BPA earlier this year from all packaging intended to contain food and other products for children after research indicated the chemicals harmful effects on the body. Researchers could not determine at what levels BPA exposure could be safe, thus banning the chemical entirely.