Exposure to BPA May Lead to Obesity in Children, Teens

Exposure to BPA may lead to obesity in children and teens, according to another emerging study on the ubiquitous polycarbonate plastics chemical.

Bisphenol A—commonly known as BPA—has been linked to a wide and growing array of adverse physical effects, according to hundreds of scientific studies conducted in recent months. Now, a new study reveals that children with higher BPA levels in their bodies are likelier to suffer from obesity, said USA Today. The study was first-of-its-kind large-scale and nationally representative study that linked an environmental chemical—in this case, BPA—to obesity in children and teenagers.

The study, conducted by researchers from NYU School of Medicine, noted that the study design did not conclude that BPA caused the obesity, said USA Today, noting that obesity rates have risen over the past 30 years. The findings, which appear in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, do add to growing research that questions the safety of the popular chemical, said Philip Landrigan, director of Children’s Environmental Health Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and who was not involved in the study. Research linking the chemical with adverse reactions has been seen in both human and animal studies. “It’s a credible study and it has to be given some attention,” Landrigan told USA Today.

This study utilized U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys of 2,838 children and teenagers, aged six to 19. The study group discovered that more than 22% of the kids with the highest BPA urine levels were obese, versus 10% of those with the lowest BPA levels, according to USA Today. Findings correlate with a study conducted last year among American adults exposed to the chemical.

Experts describe the ubiquitous phenol-acetone chemical as being an estrogenic mimicker and hormone disrupter that leeches from food/beverage containers into foods. Yet, BPA is U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for use in shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic and durable epoxy resins, which are used in food/beverage container linings. BPA leaches into the skin and into products—hot or cold—from common items (paper money, toilet paper, receipts). An anti-androgen, BPA blocks hormone activity; mimics the powerful female hormone, estrogen; and can interrupt sexual development and processes, especially in developing fetuses, infants, children, and teens.

The estrogenic hormone mimicker was recently linked to increased heart risks, adding to a growing body of evidence that has made this association. Studies have linked BPA to a wide and growing range of health effects that seem to affect nearly every bodily system: Brain tumors, hormone-sensitive cancers, brain and social behaviors, increased anxiety and depression, brain cell connection interference, interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, increased risks of immune system diseases and disorders, liver function and intestinal problems, and cardiac issues and fat cell confusion and pancreatic issues relating to diabetes. Most recently, behavior problems were linked to tooth fillings containing the chemical.

BPA’s links to reproductive system diseases are staggering and span to fetal development, likely due to its hormone-mimicking and -blocking properties. Issues include effects on uterine health and mammalian reproduction; a deadly uterine infection; premature puberty; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and other female fertility and endocrine issues; and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems. Significantly, BPA’s effects have been found to be immediate, long lasting, and trans-generational, meaning effects could carry years into the future. Despite all this, the FDA said the information on BPA does not suggest that very low BPA exposure through diet is unsafe.

Pediatric endocrinologist Larry Deeb said the recent study offers sufficient proof for parents to act and suggests purchasing BPA-free sports bottles and to avoid canned fruits and vegetables “as much as possible.” Deeb, an obesity treatment specialist told USA Today, “Why do we have to expose ourselves to these things? Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are probably better for you, if you can afford them, which is always the rub.”

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