Early Childhood Obesity May Predict What Lies Ahead

Jan 30 2014, 9:38pm CST | by

Early Childhood Obesity May Predict What Lies Ahead

Kids who are overweight or obese at five years old tend to stay that way into their teen years – and possibly beyond – according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. There’s some evidence that the childhood obesity crisis has improved or at least leveled off in the last decade. But the new research suggests that it’s still a serious concern. And it pointed to one reality in particular: Weight problems begin at a much earlier age than we’d thought – likely in the preschool years – which means that weight loss “interventions” will have to be shifted to reflect this.

The new study tracked 7,700 kids from the time they were in kindergarten through their 8th grade year. Their body mass index was calculated and converted to a percentage: Kids who are between the 5th and and 85th percentiles are considered normal weight. Between 85th and 95th percentile is considered overweight, and above the 95th is considered obese.

Kids who at age 5 were overweight or obese, which was about 15% and 12.4%, respectively, had far greater chances of remaining that way into their teen years. And the ones who were overweight at age 5 had a four-fold greater risk of being obese at age 14.

Put another way, half of the kids who were obese at age 14 had been in that 15% of overweight 5-year olds.

And it doesn’t seem to take much excess weight to increase a child’s odds of becoming overweight. About 87% of the kids who were obese in the eighth grade had been just somewhere over the 50th percentile as kindergarteners, which suggests that being anywhere above the midpoint of “normal” at age 5 can predispose children for obesity in the years to come.

The study also illustrated how difficult it is to lose weight in childhood: Only 13% of the kids who were normal weight in 8th grade had been overweight in kindergarten.

Childhood obesity is clearly the result of a combination of variables: Genetic predisposition, intrauterine factors, and the behavioral stuff that’s going on in the household (i.e., kids mimic the eating habits they see at home). The authors especially stress the prenatal factors– for example, a much higher number of high-birth-weight babies (36%) go on to be overweight teens, which suggests that a considerable portion of weight is determined before a child is even born.

Since the results suggest that a “substantial component of childhood obesity is established by the age of 5 years,” the team wonder, of course, how this trajectory can be shifted. Focusing efforts on kids who are already overweight or obese at a very young age, perhaps in the preschool years, is really the key, they say. But what that consists of is unclear. Some studies have shown early weight interventions to be effective, while others have been less encouraging. And health insurance may be reluctant to cover such interventions.

But hopefully the study will shift our focus from the school-age years to the preschool years. And hopefully this will be reflected in public health campaigns and pediatricians’ offices.

The study didn’t track what happens to the kids after age 14 – but if the U.S. adult population is any indication, the kids in this study will, unfortunately, continue along a similar course.

Follow me @alicewalton or find me on Facebook.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Finnish scientists identify new type of black hole
Helsinki, Oct 31 (IANS) Finnish researchers have discovered a new type of low-mass black hole, which is a bright celestial body that emits X-ray, the University of Turku has said.
 
 
Union Carbide ex-chief Warren Anderson is dead
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Warren Anderson, former chief executive officer of the Union Carbide Corporation, is dead, a media report said Friday. He was 92.
 
 
Himalayan Viagra fuels gold rush for local Tibetans
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Overwhelmed by people trying to find the prized medicinal fungus known as Himalayan Viagra, two isolated Tibetan communities have managed to implement a successful system for the sustainable harvest of the precious natural resource, suggests research.
 
 
Oceans were always there on Earth: Scientists
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Debunking previous theories that water came late to Earth well after the planet had formed, researchers have significantly moved back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Finnish scientists identify new type of black hole
Helsinki, Oct 31 (IANS) Finnish researchers have discovered a new type of low-mass black hole, which is a bright celestial body that emits X-ray, the University of Turku has said. Researchers at the Finnish university...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Union Carbide ex-chief Warren Anderson is dead
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Warren Anderson, former chief executive officer of the Union Carbide Corporation, is dead, a media report said Friday. He was 92. His death revived memories of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. He...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Himalayan Viagra fuels gold rush for local Tibetans
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Overwhelmed by people trying to find the prized medicinal fungus known as Himalayan Viagra, two isolated Tibetan communities have managed to implement a successful system for the sustainable...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Oceans were always there on Earth: Scientists
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Debunking previous theories that water came late to Earth well after the planet had formed, researchers have significantly moved back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Wearable health devices key for safe space tourism
New York, Oct 31 (IANS) At a time when several firms are developing spacecrafts to take ordinary citizens on short trips into space, scientists have outlined the risks and challenges involved in human commercial...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Early Walmart Cyber Monday 2014 Sale and Holiday 2014 Sale announced
Walmart has revealed their first Holiday 2014 sales details. Starting Saturday Walmart will offer over 20,000 rollback deals. New this year are early Walmart Cyber Monday 2014 sales starting midnight on walmart.com.On...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Nestle to introduce robots as sales clerks
Tokyo, Oct 31 (IANS/EFE) Nestle will use robots as sales clerks at its outlets selling coffee makers in Japan, an initiative that will later spread worldwide, a Nestle spokesperson confirmed to EFE news agency....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Healthy diet for infants prevents obesity later
New York, Oct 31 (IANS) If you do not want your baby to grow up into an overweight adult, make sure you feed him or her healthy diet from the very first year, a study suggests. Babies who eat diets high in sugar, fat...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Popular mosquito catcher in Japan uses human odour as bait
Tokyo, Oct 31 (IANS) A novel mosquito trap that lures its prey using human scent and other smells favoured by the critter is creating a buzz as Japan frets about the spread of dengue fever. The boxlike device is the...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Antarctic ozone hole stands steady: Scientists
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) The Antarctic ozone hole has reached its annual peak size and holds steady, say scientists, trying to determine if the ozone hole trend over the last decade is a result of temperature...
Read more on Business Balla