Child-Teen Obesity Linked to Food Container Chemicals: Study

Many people already know about the dangers surrounding the chemical BPA (bisphenol A) in food containers like canned food and drinks in plastic bottles.  In the case of food containers, the BPA leaches into the food where consumers then ingest it.  BPA is a known endocrine disruptor meaning it mimics the body’s naturally occurring hormones, causing a hormonal imbalance for which numerous adverse health outcomes are possible–obesity being just one of them.

In response to the public outcry to remove BPA from food containers the food industry has begun replacing BPA with two other chemicals: BPS and BPF.

The problem?  Scientists have discovered that the new replacement chemicals for BPA the food industry is now using, BPS (bisphenol S) and BPF (bispheol F) which originate from the same family of chemicals as BPA, also act as hormone disruptors and carry as much potential risk for serious adverse health outcomes as BPA.

boy in white shirt and black track pants

Among the many potentially adverse health outcomes associated with BPS and BPF is childhood obesity.  In this recent study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, researchers used data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to evaluate associations between BPA, BPS, and BPF and body mass outcomes among children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.

Their findings?  Children and teens who had greater levels of BPS and BPF in their urine were more likely to have obesity compared to those children and teens with lower levels of BPS and BPF in their urine.

Solution:  If you want to minimize ingesting BPS and BPF (or BPA, as it is still in a number of processed food containers) then avoid commercially processed foods and drinks to the extent that it is possible and choose to prepare your own snacks, drinks and meals using fresh, whole ingredients. To help with the transition, there are many free and low-cost cookbooks and food prep resources online.  Additionally, instead of canned fruits and vegetables, choose fresh or frozen versions. And never heat food that comes in a plastic container in the microwave–always place the food on a glass plate or bowl before microwaving.  And finally, avoid letting plastic beverage containers set in the sun or hot cars where the plastic can heat up and leach even more of these unwanted chemicals into the beverage.


Journal Reference: Melanie H Jacobson, Miriam Woodward, Wei Bao, Buyun Liu, Leonardo Trasande. Urinary Bisphenols and Obesity Prevalence Among US Children and Adolescents. Journal of the Endocrine Society, 2019. Overview / Study DOI: 10.1210/js.2019-00201