A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) suggests links between the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is found in plastics such as those used to manufacture water bottles, and childhood obesity, the Detroit Free Press reports. The study, known to be the first large-scale, nationally representative examination linking environmental chemicals to obesity, is the latest in a growing line of research that question the safety and feasibility of exposing children to BPA.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 92 percent of Americans over the age of 6 have detectable levels of the estrogen-like chemical in their blood. Building on this, data from the CDC revealed that 22 percent of people with the highest BPA levels in their urine were found to be obese, compared to just 10 percent of those with the lowest levels.

While previous studies have linked the chemical to adult obesity, the new study published by the AMA is the first to directly link BPA to childhood obesity. Scientists have suggested that this is because BPA is known to disrupt the body’s metabolic mechanisms, thus affecting its ability to control weight, WANE reports. Children are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of environmental chemicals.

“Pound for pound, [children] breathe more air, they eat more food and drink more water so early harmful exposure can have permanent and lifelong consequences,” Dr. Leonardo Trasande, the lead author on the study, told the news source. “Children with highest levels [of BPA] had more than twice the odds of being obese. It is fair to say that if you reduce a child’s food [and drink] consumption from [plastic-based sources] you would reduce a child’s BPA levels.”

There have been many studies in recent years that have linked BPA to a variety of human ailments, further bolstering the arguments made in this latest study. According to the Detroit Free Press, BPA has been linked to diabetes, breast and prostate cancers, behavior problems and other dangerous issues in animals and humans exposed before birth. A recent Pediatrics study found that girls with high levels of pre-birth exposure were more apt to be anxious and depressed at the age of 3. Meanwhile, men with exceedingly high levels of BPA were two to four times more likely to have problems with sperm quality and quantity, noted a 2010 Fertility and Sterility study.

While BPA is used in the manufacture of a wide variety of plastics-based products, its presence in bottled water is especially troubling, given its wide consumption by people of all ages and demographics. Along with the environmental concerns raised by widespread bottled water use, the presence of dangerous chemicals have further bolstered arguments against its use. A healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternative would be a water delivery system from Quench.