Harmful chemicals in food containers

Food containers

A new study from the University of Iowa shows that a pair of common chemicals that manufacturers use to make plastic food containers, water bottles, and other consumer products do not contribute to obesity to the extent of the chemical it is replacing.

The chemicals bisphenol F and bisphenol S (known as BPF and BPS) are being used increasingly by food packaging manufacturers as substitutes for bisphenol A (BPA), which disrupts endocrine systems and causes numerous health problems.

BPA is used in many kinds of packaging for snacks and drinks, canned foods, and water bottles. The chemical is absorbed into the body mainly through the food or water it contacts in the container.

However, little is known on the potential impact of BPF and BPS exposure in humans. The new University of Iowa study is the first to determine the health impacts of BPF and BPS exposure on obesity in humans.

Using data from a nationwide population-based study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the researchers confirm that BPA is associated with increased obesity in humans. But the study found no links between obesity and either BPF or BPS at the current exposure levels.

The researchers warn that fewer products currently use BPF and BPS. BPA still has more than half the global market share for the chemicals, and the average concentration of BPF and BPS is about one-fourth that of BPA in the US population.

Whether BPF and BPS pose an increased risk of obesity at the same population exposure levels as BPA remains unknown. Future studies will be needed to confirm the results, as BPF and BPS are likely to replace BPA in more consumer products.

The research was conducted at the Department of Epidemiology and the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health in the University Of Iowa College Of Public Health. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health through the University Of Iowa Environmental Health Sciences Research Center.

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