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BPA Responsible for Obesity in Girls, Study Reports

Update Date: Jun 13, 2013 11:04 AM EDT
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In order to combat the obesity epidemic, researchers have continuously studied the potential factors for weight gain with the hopes of preventing it. In one of the latest studies surrounding obesity, researchers found a link between a food-packaging chemical and obesity in girls. The research team from Kaiser Permanente found that the chemical bisphenol-A, also known as BPA could be responsible for weight gain in young girls.

The researcher took urine samples from a group of 1,326 boys and girls who were between fourth and 12th grades. The sample of children was from three Shanghai schools in China. After taking into account other factors that contribute to obesity, such as diet, mental health, exercise levels and family history, the researchers found that girls from ages nine to 12 with higher levels of BPA were two times more likely to be overweight in comparison to girls that had low levels of BPA. A high level of BPA, which can be found in several household products ranging from plastic bottles to food containers, was considered to be two micrograms per liter. The researchers also found that girls from the same age group with over 10 micrograms per liter were five times more likely to be obese.

"Human studies are starting to confirm animal studies that show BPA can disrupt energy storage and energy metabolism," said Dr. De-Kun Li, the study's author, reported by WebMD.

Although the findings suggest that BPA could affect the body's metabolism, making it harder for these young girls to lose weight, the researchers did not find any substantial data between BPA levels and obesity in all male participants and in female participants over the age of 12. The researchers believe that puberty could play a factor in how BPA affects the body, but they could not conclude it due to the lack of research.The study, however, did confirm a previous 2012 study that was done by researchers from New York University. This study, which was published in Journal of the American Medical Association, discovered that 22 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 that had high levels of BPA were obese.  Despite these finds, other experts and agencies are not sold on this correlation.

"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," the American Chemistry Council, a major trade association, had written in a statement according to USA Today.

The study was published in PLoS ONE. 

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