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

Solaire Shines Light On Philippine Casino Ambitions
The Philippines hopes to be the next big thing in Asian gaming, and its biggest step toward that goal just completed its first year of operation. Solaire Resort and Casino opened in March last year (see page 77; payment...
 
 
Innovators In The UK: Male, Affluent And Long-Term Planners
For decades, innovation policy has been the domain of technocrats and of party–political consensus. Whilst in other fields – such as science – regular surveys help inform public debate and policy-making, there has been...
 
 
Want To Earn $5,000? Stop Working
If you work for Amazon, Jeff Bezos will pay you a bonus of up to $5,000.  Generous, right?  And what do you have to do to get the bonus? Quit your job. It may seem crazy, but it’s true – a recent article in Time notes...
 
 
Your Local Mall, Re-digitized
As part of the never-ending battle for the consumer dollar, General Growth Properties, which owns some 120 high-end malls through the U.S., has recruited RetailMeNot to its side. Under a new agreement the two announced...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Apple Now Recycling All Apple Gadgets At Retail Stores
Apple has big things in the works for Earth Day, including their most recent announcement that their retail stores will start recycling all of their gadgets. Apple is calling it “free, responsible recycling” that will...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Solaire Shines Light On Philippine Casino Ambitions
The Philippines hopes to be the next big thing in Asian gaming, and its biggest step toward that goal just completed its first year of operation. Solaire Resort and Casino opened in March last year (see page 77; payment...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Jay Z and Beyonce buy London home?
Jay Z and Beyonce have bought a $9.3 million home in London. The superstar couple have reportedly splashed out on a luxury detached townhouse in west London, having looked for properties in the trendy Mayfair area and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Aaron Sorkin Gives More Details On Jobs Movie
The upcoming Steve Jobs movie based on the Walter Isaacson biography is still in the works, with Aaron Sorkin in charge of writing the script. Unfortunately, that is almost all that we currently know about the film.He...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Innovators In The UK: Male, Affluent And Long-Term Planners
For decades, innovation policy has been the domain of technocrats and of party–political consensus. Whilst in other fields – such as science – regular surveys help inform public debate and policy-making, there has been...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Cameron Diaz planning holiday for Gwyneth Paltrow
Cameron Diaz is organizing a girls' holiday to help Gwyneth Paltrow get over her marriage split. The 'Other Woman' actress is keen to cheer up her friend following the end of her 10-year marriage to Chris Martin and is...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Want To Earn $5,000? Stop Working
If you work for Amazon, Jeff Bezos will pay you a bonus of up to $5,000.  Generous, right?  And what do you have to do to get the bonus? Quit your job. It may seem crazy, but it’s true – a recent article in Time notes...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Your Local Mall, Re-digitized
As part of the never-ending battle for the consumer dollar, General Growth Properties, which owns some 120 high-end malls through the U.S., has recruited RetailMeNot to its side. Under a new agreement the two announced...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Jon Hamm slams Justin Bieber
Jon Hamm has branded Justin Bieber a "sh**head." The 'Mad Men' star thinks the 20-year-old singer - who is facing charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), resisting arrest and possessing an invalid driver's...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
 
Auto Balla Sexy Balla Sport Balla TV Balla Politics Balla Movie Balla Apple Balla Business Balla Ad Balla Celebrity Balla