13 February, 2010
The tipping point in obesity often occurs before two years of age, and sometimes as early as three months, when the child is learning how much and what to eat, says new research.
While many adults consider a chubby baby healthy, too many plump infants grow up to be obese teens, saddling them with Type–2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, says a new study.
“I really think this should be a wake–up call for doctors,” said principal study investigator John Harrington, paediatrician and professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). “Too often, doctors wait until medical complications arise before they begin treatment. What this study suggests is that prevention of obesity should begin far, far earlier,” added Harrington.
This study comes in the midst of alarming rates of childhood obesity, which now ranks among the most prominent health concerns in the US today. Researchers examined records from a paediatric practice of 111 children whose body mass index (BMIheight to weight ratio) exceeded 85% of the general population.
Researchers determined these children had started gaining weight in infancy at an average rate of .08 excess BMI units per month. On average, this progression began when the children were three months old. Over half the children became overweight at or before age two and 90% before reaching their fifth birthday.
The Clinical Paediatrics study suggests obesity prevention efforts should begin before age two, when children reach a tipping point in a progression that leads to obesity later in life.