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Virginians Opening Cans of "Obesity"?

August 13, 2007

Parents all over Virginia threw out baby bottles over the weekend after a federal report concluded that plastic compounds used in bottles may pose a health risk to babies. And now, a Virginia scientist wants parents to take a look in the pantry, too. The compound in question is called BPA (bisphenol A). Dr. Pete Myers with Environmental Health Sciences says studies show BPA acts like a hormone and disrupts metabolism, and he warns BPA is found in most canned foods. That may have huge implications for lower-income Virginians who buy a lot of canned goods, or receive them from food banks.

"Different demographic sectors don't have many economic choices about what they eat. We also know that obesity, type-2 diabetes, and some other health conditions, are prevalent in those demographics."

Scientists around the world are struggling to get the public and officials to accept the BPA connection. Myers notes that it's difficult because obesity is portrayed as a personal fault, when in many cases, contamination exposure should be to blame.

Myers explains that although most experiments about BPA have focused on animals, the results have been so alarming that he personally never eats canned goods anymore.

"The scientists who are actually doing the research on this are taking steps like I do. We've lowered our personal exposure levels."

Critics of the connection say human studies will be the only positive proof of harm.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - VA