Child Obesity Could Be Linked to Everyday Chemicals in Plastics, New Study Finds
Many plastic encasings and canned tins that we use on a daily basis could be factors in child obesity, as per a new study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society on Thursday.
The reason for their weight gain? The chemicals that are used in making these plastics and cans.
What are these chemicals?
Known as Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF), the two chemicals are used in many kinds of plastics, in the lining of aluminum cans for food and drink, and in the lining of cash register receipts - ones that we touch whenever we're at the shops.
The reason these two chemicals are so common is that they've replaced Bisphenol A (BPA), another type of chemical that was deemed too dangerous to continue using as it harmed people's health by interfering with our bodies' hormones.
So, nowadays, these two chemicals, BPS and BPF, are lining most of these plastics, cans, and receipts in the stead of the more harmful BPA.
The study's corresponding author, Melanie Jacobson, from the NYU School of Medicine in New York, said "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."
Of course, exposure isn't the only factor in child obesity - diet and sports are still the predominant factors in weight gain.
As Jacobson pointed out, "Although diet and exercise are still understood to be the main drivers of obesity, this research suggests that common chemical exposures may also play a role, specifically among children."
How did the team discover this, and what was the end result?
The team of researchers focused their study on children and adolescents aged six to 19 years of age.
Urine samples from this group demonstrated that the children and adolescents with higher traces of BPF and BPS were more likely to be obese, than those 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 those newer versions of that chemical," said Jacobson.
She continued, "Replacing BPA with similar chemicals does nothing to mitigate the harms chemical exposure has on our health."
The main question then is: what can we now use to replace BPF and BPS? Something chemical-free, that's for certain.