Higher levels of BPA in children and teens significantly associated with obesity

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have revealed a significant association between obesity and children and adolescents with higher concentrations of urinary bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical recently banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from sippy cups and baby bottles. Still, the chemical continues to be used in aluminum cans, such as those containing soda.

The study appears in the September 19 issue of JAMA (), dedicated to the theme of obesity.

"This is the first association of an environmental chemical in in a large, nationally representative sample," said lead investigator Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics and . "Our findings further demonstrate the need for a broader paradigm in the way we think about the . Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity certainly contribute to increased fat mass, but the story clearly doesn't end there."

BPA, a low-grade estrogen, was until recently found in plastic bottles labeled with the number 7 recycling symbol, and is still used as an internal coating for aluminum cans. Manufacturers say it provides an antiseptic function, but studies have shown the chemical disrupts multiple mechanisms of that may increase body mass. BPA has also been associated with cardiovascular disease, , prostate cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and infertility.

"In the U.S. population, exposure [to BPA] is nearly ubiquitous, with 92.6 percent of persons 6 years or older identified in the 2003-2004 National Health and (NHANES) as having detectable BPA levels in their urine. A comprehensive, cross-sectional study of dust, indoor and outdoor air, and solid and liquid food in preschool-aged children suggested that dietary sources constitute 99 percent of BPA exposure," the investigators wrote.

Using a sample of nearly 3,000 children and adolescents, ages 6 through 19 years, randomly selected for measurement of urinary BPA concentration in the 2003-2008 NHANES, Dr. Trasande and his co-authors, Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, and Teresa Attina, MD, PhD, MPH, examined associations between urinary BPA concentrations and body mass.

After controlling for race/ethnicity, age, caregiver education, poverty to income ratio, sex, serum cotinine level, caloric intake, television watching, and urinary creatinine level, the researchers found children with the highest levels of urinary BPA had 2.6 times higher odds of being obese than those with the lowest measures of urinary BPA. Among the participants with the highest levels, 22.3 percent were obese compared with 10.3 percent of the participants with the lowest levels.

Further analyses showed this association to be statistically significant in only one racial subpopulation, white children and adolescents. The researchers also found that obesity was not associated with exposure to other environmental phenols commonly used in other consumer products, such as sunscreens and soaps.

"Most people agree the majority of BPA exposure in the United States comes from aluminum cans," Dr. Trasande said. "This data adds to already existing concerns about BPA and further supports the call to limit exposure of BPA in this country, especially in children. Removing it from aluminum cans is probably one of the best ways we can limit exposure. There are alternatives that manufacturers can use to line aluminum cans."

The researchers wrote in their study that advocates and policy makers have long been concerned about BPA exposure. "We note the recent FDA ban of BPA in baby bottles and , yet our findings raise questions about exposure to BPA in consumer products used by older children. Last year, the FDA declined to ban BPA in aluminum cans and other food packaging, announcing 'reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the human food supply' and noting that it will continue to consider evidence on the safety of the chemical. Carefully conducted longitudinal studies that assess the associations identified here will yield evidence many years in the future."

More information: JAMA. 2012;308[11]:1113-1121.

Related Stories

FDA bans BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups

Jul 17, 2012

(HealthDay) -- The controversial plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is now banned for use in baby bottles and sippy cups, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.

FDA: BPA affects children; exposure should be limited

Jan 17, 2010

After earlier statements that declared bisphenol A safe for all uses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that BPA affects human development and said it is working to take the chemical out of infant formula ...

BPA lowers male fertility: report

Jun 06, 2011

Daily exposure to a chemical that is prevalent in the human environment, bisphenol A (BPA), causes lowered fertility in male mice, according to the results of a new study that will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's ...

Recommended for you

Obesity stigma real and prevalent

Apr 10, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Well-known obesity expert Joe Nadglowski, president and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, recently visited the University of New Mexico and presented two informative lectures related ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dankgus
3 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
So is the weight problem caused by the chemical coating on the cans or the massive amounts of sugar the kids are drinking out of the cans?

This reminds me of the article a week or so back that linked free school lunches to drug abuse.

--Dan
Amy_Steri
3 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
They said they "controlled for caloric intake" but you have to wonder how rigorously. BPA exposure comes primarily from packaged foods, canned products, and yes, soda. If they had high levels of BPA, where did they get it?
Caliban
not rated yet Sep 19, 2012
They said they "controlled for caloric intake" but you have to wonder how rigorously. BPA exposure comes primarily from packaged foods, canned products, and yes, soda. If they had high levels of BPA, where did they get it?


If they had high levels of BPA, then it pretty much had to come through the consumption of packaged foods. And by packaged foods, I mean fresh virtually any food besides fresh produce, since virtually all other food is packaged, and almost all of the packaging contains some amount of BPA.

Caliban
not rated yet Sep 19, 2012
Also notice this bit:

"Most people agree the majority of BPA exposure in the United States comes from aluminum cans," Dr. Trasande said. "This data adds to already existing concerns about BPA and further supports the call to limit exposure of BPA in this country, especially in children. Removing it from aluminum cans is probably one of the best ways we can limit exposure. There are alternatives that manufacturers can use to line aluminum cans."


Notice that only mentioned is the removal of BPA from aluminum cans. BPA is ubiquitous in all canned "food", regardless of whether it is in an aluminum can or not, or whether it is a beverage or not. It is also present in the plastics and paper packaging, along with phthalates, triclosan, PCBs, et c.

It's interesting that they so ineptly demonize BPA by singling it out.

Caliban
not rated yet Sep 19, 2012
It is also telling that they don't mention that, post BPA "ban", the BPA itself has --in most cases-- been replaced by a less-well-known sibling, BPS, which is so similar in structure/composition to BPA as to have virtually the same spectrum of negative health effects. All of which information is publically available, and very hotly debated in some circles --to the point of activism.

A simple substitution of evils. Pretty clever, eh?

Why does the FDA make no mention of any of these facts?

All in all, I would have to say that this is a very poorly written article, lacking even the most elementary fact-checking effort, amounting to no more than an industry-sponsored fluff piece.