I blog often about the chemical bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, because it is a harmful toxin found just about everywhere. Sure, the FDA has succeeded in removing it from baby bottles and sippy cups, but what about the effects of this toxin on older children and even adults? A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides some eye-opening information.

The study is the first to use data from a large, nationally representative sample. That means the results of the study represent what would be found across the country—it applies to all of us. The researchers found that in children aged 6 to 19 years, 22.3 percent of those with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were obese compared to only 10.3 percent of those with the lowest levels. Essentially, high levels of BPA were associated with an almost doubled obesity rate.

“Our findings further demonstrate the need for a broader paradigm in the way we think about the obesity epidemic. Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity certainly contribute to increased fat mass, but the story clearly doesn’t end there,” explained lead researcher Leonardo Trasande.

The link between higher BPA levels and obesity was also previously found in adults. In fact, the researchers continued, “In the U.S. population, exposure to [BPA] is nearly ubiquitous, with 92.6 percent of persons 6 years or older identified in the 2003–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) as having detectable BPA levels in their urine.”

Although this study only proves an association, and does not prove BPA causes obesity, BPA has already been defined as an obesogen—that is, a chemical that alters metabolism and predisposes people to gain weight. The current obesity epidemic—in children and adults—warrants a closer look at all the factors involved. Diet plays a big role, but so does environmental toxin exposure.