Deepening the mystery surrounding the health effects of bisphenol A, a large new study has linked high levels of childhood and adolescent exposure to the industrial chemical to higher rates of obesity — in white children only.
The latest research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., measured bisphenol A, or BPA, levels in the urine of a diverse group of 2,838 Americans ages 6 to 19. Researchers from New York University also reviewed data on the participants' weight, dietary intake, physical activity and socioeconomic backgrounds.
At first blush, the link between BPA and obesity appeared to be powerful: Compared with children and teens with the lowest apparent exposure to the ubiquitous chemical, those with the highest exposure were roughly 2.5 times more likely to be obese.
But upon further analysis, the researchers found that for African Americans and Latinos, the link was so small it could have been a statistical fluke. And for young Caucasians, the association strengthened: Compared with white children with the least BPA in their urine, those with the most were six times more likely to be obese, the researchers found.