Children with high BPA levels more prone to obesity, research finds

Kids who have higher levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical found in many plastic products like water bottles or food storage containers – are more prone to bigger waist circumference, higher levels of body fat and obesity, a University of Michigan study found.

While studies about BPA and adults have concluded that the chemical can be associated with harmful health outcomes, little research has been done on how BPA affects children, said lead study author Donna Eng, M.D., in a statement.

Exposure

Before its harmful effects were known, BPA was widely used in manufacturing many children's items like baby bottles and plastic toys. It is also found in the lining of metal food and beverage containers, like canned infant formula.

BPA is proven hormone disruptor, which could make it especially dangerous for children and young women of puberty age. In fact, a recent study from Kaiser Permanente found that girls who had higher-than-average levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to become overweight or obese.

BPA and obesity

The UM team studied levels of BPA in children’s urine, concluding that higher BMIs were associated with higher levels of urinary BPA. Obese children were also more likely to have bigger waist circumferences for their height than non-obese children.

More positive news, however, was that the researchers did not find a connection between BPA and chronic disease factors, like high insulin or cholesterol levels.

"Our study suggests a possible link between BPA exposure and childhood obesity," Eng said. "We therefore need more longitudinal studies to determine if there is a causal link between BPA and excess body fat."

In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that baby bottles and children’s drinking cups could no longer be manufactured with BPA, and many countries are banning the chemical from their products and voluntarily recalling products with BPA off store shelves.

Future complications

While BPA might not pose a risk for health problems in childhood, given the research on BPA and adults there could be complications that appear later in life, the researchers concluded.

“Based on these results, BPA may not have adverse effects on cardiovascular and diabetes risk, but it's certainly possible that the adverse effects of BPA could compound over time, with health effects that only later manifest in adulthood," they wrote.

Results of the study are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: University of Michigan Health System

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