Study Links BPA In Food Packaging To Higher Rates Of Obesity In Girls

There are already so many things for parents to worry about when it comes to helping kids grow up healthy. And apparently, in addition to fast food and couch potato syndrome, there could be another factor contributing to the obesity epidemic in America and abroad. A new study says girls between ages 9 and 12 with high BPA (Bisphenol-A) levels had double the risk of being obese than girls with low levels of the chemical.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE (via USA Today) provides more fodder for BPA ooponents and validates previous animal and human studies, says a health scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. BPA is in a wide variety of food packaging, and has long been targeted by health experts as a no good, very bad thing.

In the study, girls with 2 micrograms per liter or more of BPA in their systems were twice as likely to be obese than girls with levels less than that in the same age group. And girls with very high levels of 10 micrograms per liter or more were five timesmore likely to be obese.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente also took into account common obesity risk factors like diet, mental health, amount of physical activity, and family history in the process.

The thing is, researchers could only link the BPA levels to girls in that certain age group, and not to girls older than that or boys of any age. It could be that prepubescent girls are more sensitive to the impacts BPA has on metabolism, said the lead researcher.

Critics of the study say it could just be that children who are already obese may be more likely to secrete BPA, as it absorbs easily into fatty tissue.

But the researchers dismissed that viewpoint, saying that if that were true, obese kids in all age groups would be secreting high BPA levels and that didn’t show up in the research.

Our esteemed colleagues at Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, believe in limiting consumer exposure to BPA, commenting recently on Sen. Edward J. Markey’s new bill in Congress to do away with BPA:

“BPA exposure poses serious health concerns for consumers, especially since it’s pervasive in products used by millions of consumers across the country every day,” says Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. “Because of these potential risks, Consumers Union believes that the chemical should be banned in all food and beverage containers. Congressman Markey’s BPA Act would help the FDA begin to address the health concerns caused by BPA exposure and would greatly reduce the potential for further exposure to BPA.”

Study links food-packaging chemical and obesity in girls [USA Today]