New research suggests that exposure to the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA), which is commonly found in plastic bottles and other consumer food containers, may be contributing to obesity among adolescent girls.
In a study published last week by the medical journal PLOS One, researchers evaluated data on more than 1,300 children in China to review the effects BPA played on obesity during puberty.
The researchers found girls with higher BPA levels in their urine may face twice the risk of being obese, when compared to girls who had normal levels of BPA. The same effects of BPA levels was not seen among the boys who were studied.
Children ages 9 through 12 were tested to determine if their BPA urine levels were under 2 micrograms per liter or higher. They were also questioned about their diet, junk food consumption, exercise, video game usage and the weight of their parents.
BPA is commonly found in the lining of canned foods, drink bottles, dinnerware, toys and automotive parts. Exposure to the chemical can result from drinking liquids or eating food stored in containers manufactured with BPA.
Dr. De-Kun Li from Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. and her team of researchers discovered a dose-response relationship between BPA and obesity. Children who had levels at 10 micrograms per liter of BPA in their urine also had a ten times greater risk of obesity.
The study does not establish a causal connection between BPA and obesity among adolescent girls, but it does add to the growing evidence that suggests the chemical may pose health risks for consumers. In recent years, BPA has already been under significant scrutiny concerning its effects as an endocrine disruptor.
BPA acts similar to the hormone estrogen and effects the metabolic process. It mimics estrogen and can cause widespread side effects including damage to the reproductive organs and cause birth defects.
A possible link between BPA and increased risk of childhood obesity was also suggested in a study published last year. That research led to similar findings, linking high levels of BPA to a two-fold increase in body mass index (BMI).
Two months ago, California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL-EPA) added BPA to their list of chemicals known to cause reproductive toxicity. The update was prompted by a report which determined BPA caused reproductive toxicity at high doses.
Other studies published earlier this year also linked BPA to serious side effects. Researchers from Columbia University determined exposure to BPA during pregnancy may increase the unborn child’s risk of developing asthma. Research from Duke University found the chemical may affect the proper formation of the human brain, resulting in far reaching effects to neurodevelopment.
BPA is often found at some level in every American’s urine. Nearly 90 percent of the children tested at Columbia University had some level of BPA concentrations in their urine.
Use of BPA was banned from many children’s products and certain food packaging in several European countries. Only last year, the FDA banned BPA from being used in baby products, but maintained the view that BPA does not pose a risk to consumers.
Authors of the new study urge parents to avoid using products made with BPA as much as possible, especially in products children will use. Researchers say children and fetuses have the highest risk of being affected by BPA because of their developing bodies.