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Study: Chemical in Plastic Cans and Cups Could Make Kids Obese

Study: Chemical in Plastic Cans and Cups Could Make Kids Obese

According to researchers, BPA exposure can make kids gain weight and have behavioral problems

November 1st, 2012 by Daryl Nelson of ConsumerAffairs in News

Kids who are suffering from obesity could have high levels of bisphenol-A (BPA) in their bloodstream, reveals a study. The chemical is widely used in food packaging. In July, the FDA banned its use in baby bottles and sippy cups.

Researchers from the New York University School (NYU) of Medicine gathered 2,838 children and teenagers, ages 6 through 19 and learned those kids with the highest BPA levels had a 2.6 higher chance of becoming obese.

In addition, 22 percent of those obese children had the highest BPA levels compared to only 10 percent of kids who were obese that had the lowest traces of BPA.

BPA is a chemical in plastic  that's used to make just about everything  in our daily lives, from plastic drinking containers, cups, plates, toys, parts for your car and other types of machinery -- to the inside of cans, and paper receipts from stores. It makes the surface of items feel slippery and smooth to the touch.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the exposure to BPA among U.S. residents couldn't be more pervasive. This was confirmed in 2003 and 2004, when scientists for the government agency measured BPA levels in the urine of over 2,500 research participants, and discovered each person had traces of the plastic chemical in their body.

Dr. Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at NYU's School of Medicine told Fox News that government regulators should take another look at banning items like drinking cans, as children are exceptionally prone to being exposed to BPA from the high amount of sodas and canned juices they drink.

Double trouble

He also says the combination of BPA and children overeating pose a double threat when it comes to the younger ones becoming obese.

"The FDA declined to ban [BPA] from aluminum cans, saying they wanted to wait for further evidence," said Trasande in an interview.

"This study raises concerns about the need to reconsider that stance. We were especially concerned that children who ate too many calories might also ingest BPA. But whether the children consumed an excessive amount of calories or a normal amount, BPA was still associated with obesity," he said.

Earlier this year, the FDA officially banned the use of BPA in the manufacturing of baby bottles and sippy-cups, but many believe the government's ban hasn't done much in the way of further exposure or potential harm. According to scientists at least 93 percent of people in the U.S. have some traces of BPA.

"The FDA is slowly making progress on this issue, but they are doing the bare minimum here," said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families in an interview with the New York Times earlier this year. "They are instituting a ban that is already in effect voluntarily."

The NYU study is published in Journal of the American Medical Association.

Exposure during pregnancy

In a separate experiment led by the Harvard School of Public Health, it was revealed that BPA during a woman's pregnancy significantly impacts the child's behavioral traits as they grow older.

This was determined when researchers tested the BPA levels of women who were 16 to 26 weeks pregnant, and  tested the BPA amounts of their children after they were born.

All the children were tested at ages one two and three so scientist could document any obvious patterns.

The last part of the study entailed Mothers filling out questionnaires that would explain their children's behavioral patterns at said ages. The researchers learned that women who had high BPA levels during pregnancy had children with a higher amount of behavioral problems.

And these cases were all prevalent in female children and not the males. This may be due to BPA's ability to affect one's hormones if over exposed, say researchers.

"For each 10-fold increase in the pregnant women's BPA levels, the children had more anxiety, hyperactivity, and depression and lower emotional control and inhibition," researchers said in a statement.

Lead study author Joe Braun was more specific: "None of the children had clinically abnormal behavior, but some children had more behavior problems than others, and it wasn't the children"s BPA levels that were linked to differences in behavior, it was just their mother's," he said.

The Harvard School of Public Health study was published in 2011 in the journal of Pediatrics.