Study links BPA, obesity in kids

Much of the controversy surrounding bisphenol A has focused on studies linking the chemical to breast cancer, testicular cancer, reproductive deformities and neurological defects, but a new study points to an association between the chemical and obesity in children.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors from New York University report that a study of 2,838 youths, age 6 to 19, found that higher levels of BPA in urine was “significantly associated” with obesity.

Authors of the study said children with the highest levels of BPA in their urine also had the highest rates of obesity, a prevalence of 22.3 percent. By comparison, children with the lowest levels of BPA had an obesity prevalence of only 10.3 percent

“To our knowledge,” the authors write, “this is the first report of an association of an environmental chemical exposure with childhood obesity in a nationally representative sample.”

However, as the researchers acknowledge, the study does not come close to establishing that BPA causes obesity. In fact, the research may show something very different.

“For all we know, it could be the obesity that makes (the children) have higher BPA levels,” says Ellen Connor, an associate professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Connor explained that previous research has established that fat stores BPA. It is possible, therefore, that having more fat may cause a person to retain more BPA in their system.

“The most important thing about this study is that it is an association. It does not show causality,” says Praveen Goday, director of clinical nutrition at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and an associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

— Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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