BPA Exposure: Two New Studies Spotlight the Risks

shutterstock_269113469Every day our bodies come into contact with hundreds of toxins—many of which are hazardous to human health—which is why taking steps to reduce exposure in our daily lives is so important. Take Bisphenol A, for example. BPA is a chemical used to harden plastics and is still widely used in food packaging. Exposure to BPA has been linked to an array of health conditions, including brain and behavior problems as well as heart problems. Now, two new studies provide even more reason to keep an eye out for BPA.

BPA, Laziness, and Obesity: A Possible Link
Researchers from the University of Missouri recently discovered that mice exposed to BPA in the womb (along with another chemical called ethinyl estradiol) were less physically active, slept more, and had slower metabolisms when compared with those who were not exposed, all of which contribute to obesity and related conditions. Study author Cheryl Rosenfeld and her team worry that because humans come into contact with these chemicals so early and so frequently throughout life, the impact on our physical and mental health may last well into adulthood.

Is BPA on Your Child’s School Menu?
A new study out of Stanford University in California has found that children who eat school meals may be at a higher risk of BPA exposure. Researchers found that most food items available in school cafeterias come pre-packaged in cans, plastic bags, or plastic containers—all common hiding spots for BPA—and depending on what they ate, students who consumed federally funded school meals on a daily basis were more likely to have a higher BPA intake.

“Even a dose of one extra microgram per day could be a big deal,” said lead author Jennifer Hartle, a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. She stressed the need for more adequate testing with regard to the risks involved with even low levels of BPA, as well as the need for schools to protect kids by limiting exposure whenever possible and offering more fresh fruits and vegetables.


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Back to School Focus: Providing Free Fruit & Veggies Helps Reduce Childhood Obesity

shutterstock_77073598More than a third of U.S. children and teens are overweight or obese, a reality that places a heavy burden on both their physical and mental health as they grow into adulthood. As experts nationwide focus their efforts on improving nutrition standards and advocating a healthier lifestyle for American kids, a new study offers hope that we may be on the right track.

Researchers from the University of Arkansas recently looked at the impact of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) on a sample of participating schools in their state. Since the 2008-2009 school year—when the program was first introduced to Arkansas schools—obesity rates have dropped from 20% to 17%. This is a notable decline in a state with some of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country.

The FFVP is a federally assisted program that allows for fresh fruits and vegetables to be provided for students free of charge throughout the school day. Aimed at encouraging smart eating habits in children and promoting long-term health, the program targets elementary schools with the highest free and reduced price enrollment. And, according to study co-author Rodolfo Nayga, it may be one of the simplest and most cost-effective strategies of its kind.

“By this measure, our results suggest that the fresh fruit and vegetable program is a very cost-effective obesity prevention tool,” said Nayga in a recent news release. “Moreover, prevention of childhood obesity is in addition to the other nutritional benefits that come from increased fruit and vegetable consumption.”


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