If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know that childhood obesity and BPA are two topics that have gotten a lot of screen time as of late. As a parent and a blogger, I worry about these topics and their effects on our children's health. But I never before realized how connected they are.
Turns out, a new study published in a journal called Biotechnology Letters has found that certain chemicals may be effecting the way our bodies' take up and store fat — making us fatter than we would be without exposure.
Now, this isn't to say that diet and exercise don't play a part, because of course they do. According to a growing number of studies, some chemicals in the environment can also induce obesity. These chemicals are called obesogens, and they may be exacerbating an already serious epidemic. And you guessed it — BPA is one of those chemicals.
For the study, researchers identified two common environmental chemicals — bisphenol A and benzyl butyl phthalate — that can control the number of fat cells produced and the uptake and storage of fats in those cells. Both of these conditions — more fat cells and fatter cells — underlie weight gain in people.
Overall, five environmental chemicals were tested to determine their capacity as obesogens. They included the compounds benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dipropyl phthalate (DPP) and bisphenol A (BPA); the poisonous herbicide dioxin (or TCDD); and a product of cooking oil fumes, tt-DDE. These chemicals were chosen because humans are widely exposed to them. They were also previously identified as endocrine disruptors, or chemicals that can alter the body's response to certain hormones.
Two of these chemicals, BPA and BBP, were found to be significant obesogens, meaning that they affected the way the body produced fat cells and the way it stored fat.
Kids (and their parents) today are facing enough challenges to health and fitness; we certainly don't need chemicals going behind the scenes to make us fat. This is yet another good reason to avoid BPA and to support legislation that bans the chemical from food containers.