Youthful Pounds Predict Later Obesity
For years parents regarded their children's chubby cheeks and pudgy limbs as nothing more than harmless baby fat, soon to be shed during adolescent years. Attitudes have changed with increased attention to rising childhood obesity rates, but far too many moms and dads remain in denial about their children's weight problem--the health risks such extra pounds pose. Now the National Institutes of Health has come out with the strongest evidence to date on the link between overweight during childhood and overweight later in life.
Researchers weighed more than 1,000 children seven times over the course of ten years, beginning at 2 years old and ending at age 12. They found that a child who was overweight once during elementary school years was 25 times more likely to be overweight at age 12 than a child who remained normal weight during that period. A child who registered overweight three times during elementary school was 374 times more likely to be overweight by age 12. According to study authors, these results should encourage pediatricians and parents to take seriously early weight gain, rather than hoping that the problem will resolve itself in due course.
As discussed in previous newsletters, children with overweight parents have the highest odds of becoming overweight themselves--while temperamental tots are also at greater risk for obesity. Too much tube time poses a particular threat for aggravating weight problems: Researchers found that children take in an extra 167 calories for every hour spent in front of the TV. For tips on how to help your child cultivate healthy eating patterns, download our brochure on childhood obesity.