Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in food packaging, is linked to obesity and abnormal waist circumference in children, concludes a University of Michigan study published August 19 in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers used data on more than 3,000 children collected from 2003 to 2010 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study compared BPA levels in urine to body-mass index (BMI), waist circumference and body fat percentage in children aged 6 to 18 years. Adjustments were made for age, race, tobacco exposure and income levels.
The study found that children with higher concentrations of BPA in their urine were at greater risk of having a higher BMI and abnormal waist circumference-to- height ratio. Previous studies have shown that BPA is linked to increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease in adults. The University of Michigan study did not find an association between BPA levels and cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has studied the effects of BPA ingestion on humans and determined the effects are minimal. However, the agency did place a ban on use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in July 2012 at the request of the American Chemistry Council.
For consumers that wish to avoid BPA:
- Some plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA. Avoid these plastics.
- Do not put very hot liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers made with BPA.
- Do not drink from plastic water bottles that have been left in the sun
- Discard all bottles with scratches, as these may harbor bacteria and, if BPA-containing, lead to greater release of BPA.
- Search for foods and beverages labeled "BPA free"
The study authors note that obese individuals may store BPA differently than non-obese individuals, or individuals that are obese may consume more BPA contaminated foods than others, both cases would explain the study results. Further study is needed to determine the exact relationship between BPA and obesity.