Obesity Linked to Higher BPA Levels

BPA exposure in teens linked to higher obesity levels but reasons unclear

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) More and more attention has been focused on the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in recent years. BPA is found in many products, but it's not clear how it might affect the human body.

A recent study found that teens with higher levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to be obese than those teens with lower levels.

The teens with higher amounts of BPA did not show any other increased risk factors for chronic disease based on their cholesterol, blood sugar or insulin levels.

BPA is a compound used to make certain hard plastics, including hard water bottles and some containers. It can also be found on the inside of canned goods.

"Look for BPA-free products."

The study, led by Donna Eng, MD, of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, looked at the relationship between teens' exposure to BPA and various risk factors for chronic disease.

The chronic disease risk factors that the researchers looked for included teens' fat percentage, cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.

The researchers used data from the 2003-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included urine sample analyses from 3,318 children and teens aged 6 to 18.

Teens who were pregnant, diabetic or taking insulin resistance medication were excluded.

The researchers compared the concentration of BPA found in the teens' urine samples with their body mass index (BMI).

BMI is a ratio of a person's weight to height. It's used to determine how healthy a person's weight is.

In their analysis, the researchers took into account the teens' age, race/ethnicity, poverty level, exposure to tobacco smoke, and consumption of soft drinks.

The researchers found that teens with higher amounts of BPA in their urine were also more likely to be obese.

For example, teens in the second lowest 25 percent for BPA exposure had about 1.74 times greater odds of being obese than those in the lowest 25 percent for BPA exposure.

The increased odds for those in the second highest 25 percent for BPA exposure, compared to those in the lowest, was 1.64 times.

The teens in the highest 25 percent for BPA exposure were roughly twice as likely than those in the lowest 25 percent to be obese.

The researchers also found that the teens' waists were proportionally larger with increasing amounts of exposure to BPA.

Aside from weight, no differences in the other measurements (cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin resistance) were found based on teens' exposure to BPA.

Overall, the researchers identified a higher risk of obesity in teens with higher exposure to BPA. It's unclear what the reasons for this link might be.

The study was published August 19 in the journal Pediatrics. The authors reported not conflicts of interest.

The research was funded by the Department of Pediatrics and the Office of the Vice President of Research at the University of Michigan, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Review Date: 
August 18, 2013
Last Updated:
September 4, 2013