A study published in PLOS ONE shows that high BPA levels may increase the prevalence for obesity in young girls. BPA, or bisphenol-A , is a chemical used in food packaging such as plastic bottles and metal food containers.
The researchers examined urine samples of 1,326 male and female children from fourth through 12th grades at three Shanghai, China schools. Researchers took into account common obesity risk factors, including diet, mental health, amount of physical activity, and family history. They found that girls ages 9–12 with high levels of BPA—2+ mg/L (micrograms per liter)—were two times more likely to be obese than girls with lower levels of BPA in the same age group. Girls with very high levels of BPA—10+ mg/L—were five times more likely to be obese.
It should be noted that no relationship between BPA and obesity levels was found in boys or in girls older than 12.
The authors concluded that: “Our study suggests that BPA could be a potential new environmental obesogen. Widespread exposure to BPA in the human population may also be contributing to the worldwide obesity epidemic.”
In response to the study, the American Chemistry Council released the following statement: “Attempts to link our national obesity problem to minute exposures to chemicals found in common, everyday products are a distraction from the real efforts underway to address this important national health issue. Due to inherent, fundamental limitations in this study, it is incapable of establishing any meaningful connection between BPA and obesity. In particular, the study measures BPA exposure only after obesity has developed, which provides no information on what caused obesity to develop, a limitation noted by the study’s authors.”