Exposure to common chemicals in plastics and canned foods may play a role in childhood obesity, according to a study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF) are manufactured chemicals used in certain kinds of plastic, in the lining of aluminum-canned food and drinks, and in thermal paper from cash-register receipts. These chemicals have been used as a replacement for bisphenol A (BPA), a well-known endocrine-disrupting chemical that harms human health by interfering with the body's hormones.
United States Map of Adult Obesity Prevalence by State (2013). Adult Obesity is the percentage of the adult population (age 20 and older) that reports a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2.
20.2% - 24% 24% - 25% 25% - 26.8% 26.8% - 28.7% 28.7% - 30.4% 30.4% - 32.7% 32.7% - 34% 34% - 35.2%
Credit: Datawheel, University of Wisconsin - County Health Rankings
"This research is significant because exposure to these chemicals is very common in the United States. BPS and BPF use is growing because manufacturers are replacing BPA with these chemicals, so that is contributing to the frequency of exposure," said the study's corresponding author, Melanie Jacobson, Ph.D., M.P.H, of NYU School of Medicine in New York, N.Y. "Although diet and exercise are still understood to the main drivers of obesity, this research suggests that common chemical exposures may also play a role, specifically among children."
In this study, researchers used data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to evaluate associations between BPA, BPS, and BPF and body mass outcomes among children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years. Children who had greater levels of BPS and BPF in their urine were more likely to have obesity compared to children with lower levels.
"In a previous study, we found that the predecessor chemical to BPS and BPF--BPA--was associated with a higher prevalence obesity in U.S. children, and this study found the same trend among these newer versions of that chemical. Replacing BPA with similar chemicals does nothing to mitigate the harms chemical exposure has on our health," Jacobson said.
Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.
Contacts and sources:
The Endocrine Society
Citation: "Urinary Bisphenols and Obesity Prevalence Among US Children and Adolescents," was published online in the open-access journal. Other authors of the study include: Miriam Woodward, Wei Bao, Buyun Liu, and Leonardo Trasande of NYU School of Medicine.
The study received funding support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.