Is this common chemical making your kids fat?
When does incompetence cross the line into negligence?
You don't need to look any further than the FDA's handling of the bisphenol (BPA) crisis for the answer to that question. They hurtled across that line at top speed years ago.
Make no mistake...BPA, a synthetic chemical found in consumer products ranging from aluminum cans to cash register receipts, is a threat to your health. This is a fact with a stack of research backing it up. Yet, the FDA refuses to acknowledge the danger.
Sure, after years of pressure they finally caved this year and banned the chemical from children's sippy cups and baby bottles. Too bad it was an empty gesture.
The truth is parents had wised up long ago, and were buying BPA-free products for their babies long before the ban. Since there wasn't a market for the BPA-tainted baby bottles and sippy cups anymore, most manufacturers had already stopped making them anyway.
And besides, despite its own ban the FDA still refuses to acknowledge that BPA actually poses a threat to health. In fact, they're so confident that it isn't a threat that they decided not to ban the creepy chemical in aluminum cans and other food packaging. Talk about a muddled message.
The devil is in the details
The problem with BPA is that it's a low-grade estrogen...or estrogen-mimic. Your body simply can't tell the difference between it and the "real stuff." And since you're being exposed to bits of BPA all the time, all those little bits can add up to a big problem.
Studies have shown it can wreak havoc with your metabolism and endocrine system.
In fact, research has already revealed an association between BPA and infertility, sexual dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, adult obesity, and neurological disorders. And studies linking the chemical to certain markers of sexual maturity have raised concerns about it playing a role in girls reaching puberty so much earlier these days.
(Not a threat?! Come on, are you even paying attention here FDA?!?)
Now a frightening new study has found a link between BPA and obesity in children and teens. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, used a sample of nearly 3,000 kids and teens between the ages of 6 and 19.
After reviewing the children's BPA levels the researchers found that the kids with the highest levels of urinary BPA were 2.6 times more likely to be obese than those with the lowest levels. Caucasian kids had it worst, being five times more likely to be obese when they had high BPA levels. But African-American kids still had an elevated risk, and were 1.25 times more likely to be obese when their BPA levels were elevated.
And with kids being exposed to BPA since before they're even born these days, it's easy to see why these findings are so concerning.
BPA is bad news
Now no one is suggesting that BPA is the sole cause of obesity. As I've explained before, obesity is a complex problem with no single cause. Diet (poor ones) and exercise (lack of it) of course, both, have starring roles to play in the epidemic.
But, despite huge efforts to get people moving more and eating less, our weight... and our children's weight... continues to balloon. And frankly, with all the evidence that's stacked up we'd be foolish to ignore the role that environmental factors like BPA are playing in the problem.
When you look at the long and growing list of health concerns associated with this chemical two things are clear. The first is that B-P-A spells B-A-D news for your health, and the health of your family. And the second is that the FDA has been asleep on the job when it comes to protecting us from it.
The FDA maintains that "the very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet" are safe. But the reality is that the average person's exposure levels are nowhere near "very low," and they certainly aren't limited to diet.
Heck, one study last year found that eating a serving of canned soup for just five days in a row can send your BPA levels skyrocketing by 1000%! And BPA is found in all kinds of other non-food related products including flooring, pipes, nail polish, compact discs, electrical appliances, and more.
The truth is, unless you move to a remote island somewhere avoiding BPA altogether is nearly impossible. But you can reduce your family's exposure by making a commitment to buying fresh foods more often. And when you must use something processed be sure to look for a BPA-free stamp on the can or package before buying it.