Jacobson MH, et al. J Endocr Soc. 2019;doi:10.1210/js.2019-00201.

July 25, 2019
2 min read

Chemicals replacing BPA in plastics, cans increase childhood obesity risk


Jacobson MH, et al. J Endocr Soc. 2019;doi:10.1210/js.2019-00201.

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Children with greater levels of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals bisphenol S and bisphenol F in their urine are more likely to have obesity when compared with children with lower levels of the chemicals, according to findings published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

Melanie Jacobson

Bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF) are manufactured chemicals used in certain kinds of plastic, in the lining of aluminum food and drink cans, and in thermal paper from cash-register receipts. These chemicals have been used as a replacement for bisphenol A (BPA), a well-known endocrine-disrupting chemical that harms human health by interfering with the body’s hormones.

“Although diet and exercise are still understood to be the main drivers of obesity, this research suggests that these common chemical exposures may also play a role, specifically among children,” Melanie Jacobson, PhD, MPH, a research scientist in the division of environmental pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine, New York, told Endocrine Today. “This study found that there was a correlation between BPS and BPF and obesity among U.S. children and adolescents. However, this was a cross-sectional study, and we can’t determine if these exposures cause obesity without more long-term studies that follow children over time.”

Jacobson and colleagues analyzed data from 1,831 children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years who completed 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Researchers used high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry to assess concentrations of BPA, BPS and BPF using spot urine samples. Researchers examined rates of obesity, overweight, severe obesity (BMI 35 kg/m²), BMI z score and abdominal obesity. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate associations between bisphenol compounds and general obesity.

Within the cohort, median concentrations of BPA, BPS and BPF were 1.3 ng/mL, 0.4 ng/mL and 0.2 ng/mL, respectively. Age and sex were not significantly associated with BPA or BPS, but those with detectable BPF concentrations were more likely to be adolescents vs. children, according to researchers.

Overall prevalence of general obesity across the two survey cycles was 19.6%; prevalence of severe obesity was 12.7%. In bivariate analyses, BPS levels were greater among children with obesity (mean, 0.47 ng/mL) and severe obesity (mean, 0.49 ng/mL) and abdominal obesity (mean, 0.42 ng/mL) vs. those without obesity (mean, 0.35 ng/mL; P < .01), according to researchers.

In adjusted models, log-transformed continuous BPS concentrations were associated with increased odds of general obesity, severe obesity and abdominal obesity. For each log-unit increase in BPS, odds for developing obesity increased by 16% (OR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.02-1.32), odds for severe obesity increased by 18% (OR = 1.18; 95% CI, 1.03-1.35) and odds for abdominal obesity increased by 13% (OR = 1.13; 95% CI, 1.02-1.27).


BPF detection was not associated with general or severe obesity; however, it was associated with an increased odds for overweight (OR = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.06-1.51) and abdominal obesity (OR = 1.29; 95% CI, 1.01-1.64), according to researchers.

“As BPA levels have declined, the use of BPS and its detection in human samples has increased in recent years,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, as the associations between BPA and obesity have attenuated as BPA levels have declined, it is possible that the associations between BPS and body mass could change as levels increase.”

The researchers noted that the potential health effects of BPS and other BPA replacement compounds should be monitored going forward, given that human exposure to these compounds is likely to continue to increase in the future. – by Regina Schaffer

For more information:

Melanie Jacobson, PhD, MPH, can be reached at NYU School of Medicine, Division of Environmental Pediatrics, 403 E. 34th St., New York, NY 10016; email:

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.