Plastics Europe wades into BPA obesity debate

By Jenny EAGLE

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: Utex Industries
Picture credit: Utex Industries

Related tags: Epidemiology

Plastics Europe has hit back at a BPA obesity study highlighted by researchers at New York University.

Jasmin Bird, communications manager, Polycarbonate/BPA-Group, Plastics Europe, vehemently denies there is a BPA obesity crisis​.

She said the public should be confident BPA is one of the most studied chemicals around and has a track safety record of 50 years.

Attempts to link human obesity to spot exposures to chemicals found in common, everyday products is a distraction from the real efforts underway to address the important national health issue of obesity​,” she said.

Importantly, no investigation was undertaken to consider other obesity risk factors or related parameters, such as e.g. unhealthy diet or lack of sport, which might be much more obvious factors to cause obesity​.”

Cross-sectional study

In the report, Dr Leonardo Trasande said children exposed to Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) and bisphenol A, used in food packaging, are likely to be obese or show signs of diabetes than those with lower exposure and parents should avoid buying plastics made with DEHP.

Bird said the research carried out is a “cross-sectional” epidemiology study investigating statistical associations between BPA exposure and obesity.

Cross-sectional studies measure BPA at one single point in time, which is the same moment as the respective health effect is recorded.

Such studies are generally incapable of establishing a cause-effect relationship between BPA and obesity (or any other chronic disease), because single spot measurings provide essentially no information on BPA exposure in previous months or years when chronic diseases such as obesity develop​,” she added.

In addition, the statistical associations are not compelling and the data does not show a clear dose-response. The cross-sectional study measures BPA exposure via single spot urine sample only after obesity has already developed​.”

Barrage of reports

Geoffrey Kabat, a US epidemiologist, writing for Forbes claims studies like this are used to ‘scare people’.

We have become accustomed to a steady barrage of reports of hazards lurking in our environment that may pose a threat our health and that of our children​,” he said.

This is a cross-sectional study, meaning all the information was collected at one point in time. This is the weakest type of design and it does not tell us anything about the temporal relationship between BPA exposure and obesity​.”

Bird added, the European Food Safety Agency EFSA, the US Food and Drug Administration FDA and other global regulatory bodies have concluded that science supports the safety of BPA in its current uses, including its continued use in food-contact products.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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