Two new studies in the journal Pediatrics have added to concerns about the safety of chemicals used in plastics, such as those used in baby bottles, plastic food containers and toys. The new research provides further evidence of the risks posed by bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical used in many kids products until recently – and phthalates, which are used to make plastics more flexible. Experts have warned that the findings add to growing concerns about the effects that chemicals may be having inside our bodies.
Bpa Linked To Obesity in Children
BPA used to be included in products such as baby bottles, sippy cups and plastic toys, as well as in the protective coatings on metal food containers and in dental sealants. However, its use has been restricted as of July 2012, when the Food and Drug Administration announced that BPA could no longer be used in baby bottles and cups.
Now, a new study has been published that will undoubtedly add to concerns about this controversial chemical. Scientists at the University of Michigan looked at the levels of BPA in children’s urine, as well as measuring their body fat, waist circumference and certain risk factors for heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
They discovered that children with high levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to be obese than those with lower levels of the chemical. In addition, youngsters with high BPA tended to have a large waistline for their height. “Our study suggests a possible link between BPA exposure and childhood obesity,” said lead author Dr. Donna Eng, who called for further studies to determine whether or not BPA actually causes excess body fat.
Phthalates May Contribute to Childhood Diabetes
The second study in Pediatrics journal looked at the possible role of phthalates in the development of insulin resistance, a condition that may lead to type-2 diabetes. Exposure to phthalates has previously been linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance in adults, but the latest research indicates that the condition may develop as early as adolescence.
Scientists at New York University, Penn State University and the University of Washington found that youngsters aged 12 to 19 with high levels of a phthalate found in processed foods in their urine tended to have a significantly increased risk of insulin resistance, thus raising their chances of developing type-2 diabetes in the future. Commenting on why this might happen, New York University’s Dr. Leonardo Trasande revealed:
In laboratory studies, phthalates influence the expression of genes related to how we respond to sugar ingestion with insulin secretion.
GNet Has Previously Reported the Possible Dangers of Plastics
GNet readers will already be aware of the potential risks associated with chemicals in plastics, as this is not the first time we’ve reported on the subject. In fact, as recently as June we discussed the hazardous nature of BPA and phthalates in our article, ‘Plastics – the hidden dangers in everyday products‘.
Plastics are so pervasive that it’s almost impossible to cut them out of your lives completely. But there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals, such as avoiding drinks in plastic bottles, reheating food in Pyrex containers, storing leftovers in stainless steel pots and buying products such as cooking oils and cosmetic products that come in glass bottles and jars, rather than plastic ones.