BPA Linked To Obesity: Is This Common Chemical Making You Fat?
A common chemical used in a variety of household objects has been linked to obesity, according to a new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The controversial chemical bisphenol-A, better known as BPA, was shown to contribute to obesity in humans.
Plastics manufacturers use BPA to harden plastics, but the chemical mimics estrogen in the human body, first reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Studies have linked the chemical to a host of health issues such as cancer, reproductive problems, heart disease and neurological issues, though so far FDA officials consider BPA to be safe.
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"In experimental studies, BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt multiple metabolic mechanisms, suggesting that it may increase body mass in environmentally relevant doses and therefore contribute to obesity in humans," the researchers from the New York University School of Medicine wrote in the study.
BPA is found in everything from water bottles and the liners of food cans to sunglasses and CD cases. When these objects are washed, heated or stressed, the chemical can leach out and potentially cause health problems.
People become exposed to BPA from eating or drinking anything that's been stored in containers that use BPA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA-laced urine in 93 percent of residents tested between 2003 and 2004.
Researchers looked at 2,838 kids and teens between the ages of 6 and 19, and found that the heaviest study participants also had the highest levels of BPA in their urine.
The FDA recently banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, but researchers said it's not enough.
"We note the recent FDA ban of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, yet our findings raise questions about exposure to BPA in consumer products used by older children," the researchers wrote in the study. "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 than 12.5 million American children ages 2 through 19 are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the number of obese children has tripled since 1980. Health care costs related to childhood obesity totaled $3 billion in 2009, according to a study published in Nature.
More than 35 percent of adults in the U.S. older than 20 are obese. In 1985, no state had an obesity rate higher than 14 percent. By 2010, no state had an obesity rate lower than 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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