At last check, more than 35% of US adults over the age of 20 are obese, an astounding number that is most often blamed on what is known as the “standard American diet” (SAD) and inactivity. But some recent research suggests there may be more to it—particularly that the presence of bisphenol-A, a toxin found in plastic drink and food containers, could be contributing to the phenomena.
A study published in PLoS ONE in 2013 revealed that school-age children in grades 4 to 12 who had higher levels of BPA were more likely to be obese. But could we blame BPA for our increasing waistlines? While it certainly isn’t a primary factor, some seem to think it’s factor enough for concern.
BPA is an endocrine disrupting industrial chemical used in the production of rigid plastic materials, most often found in food and drink packaging. It lines the inside of canned foods and can also be found in plastic dinnerware, CDs, toys, and dental sealants.
Previous research has indicated we all have BPA in our bodies, because of its prevalence in our modern world. And the effects this compound could be having inside us are largely a mystery.
This latest study found girls between the ages of 9 and 12 who had higher than average BPA concentration in their urine had a two-fold risk of having body weight in the top 10th percentile for their age. Those girls had 2 micrograms of BPA per liter of urine, or more. But for those with 10 mcg per liter, their risk of obesity was five times greater.
“Among the girls studied, 36% of those with a higher-than-average BPA were overweight or obese compared with 21% of those with a lower-than-average BPA,” reports Margie King at GreenMedInfo.com.
This isn’t the first study to connect BPA with an increased risk of obesity. A few years ago, researchers with NYU School of Medicine found that obese children made up 22 percent of those tested with the highest levels of BPA. On the other hand, obese children made up only 10 percent of those with the lowest levels of BPA.
It’s believed the hormone disrupting qualities of BPA could play a role in the obesity of girls specifically. Authors of the latest study surmise that the compound could promote early puberty and weight gain during prepubescent years. They also think it could increase insulin sensitivity by suppressing adiponectin. Here are 7 other nasty effects of BPA.
BPA’s endocrine disrupting effects are widely known, but this could be a case of the chicken and the egg, where it’s hard to determine which came first. Children who eat large amounts of processed and packaged foods—those most likely containing BPA—are also more likely to be overweight, and in that case it wouldn’t be the BPA causing obesity, but the food within the BPA packages.