A new study completed by American researchers indicates that toddlers who are overweight or obese at age 2 run a much higher risk of being overweight at age 12 when compared to toddlers of recommended weight. The new study, whose results were released earlier this week, followed children from age 2 through age 12 and tracked not only their weight, but also their levels of weight gain as compared to other children of the same age.
Against popular belief
Despite what you may hear, weight and weight gain is important throughout a persons life including when they are very young. It is particularly important to establish healthy eating habits when a child is young in addition to maintaining a healthy weight. Contrary to what many people believe, weight will typically not go away simply as a result of getting older, the study indicated.
This National Institutes of Health funded study goes hand in hand with earlier released studies which came to the conclusion that overweight and obese teenagers are also much more likely to become overweight or obese adults. Combining the two studies together, it can be assumed that an overweight or obese toddler is much more likely to become an overweight or obese adult than toddlers of a lower weight.
This study followed children from birth and tracked them according to their body mass indexes. The children were from 10 different cities from across the country as well as a broad range of socioeconomic levels. Eighty percent of the children were from homes where two parents were present. 1,042 children participated in the survey and their heights and weights were taken at 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12 years old. Also, the children were classified as obese if their body mass index surpassed the 85th percentile when compared to children of the same age.
The statistics listed below are some of the characteristics which the study tracked.
If the child was overweight at least one time between ages 2-4, it was 5 times more likely to be overweight at age 12 when compared to children who were never overweight during that time frame.
A child who was overweight at least once during their time in elementary school was 25 times more likely to be overweight or obese at age 12 when compared to children who were never overweight during that time frame.
A child who was overweight twice while in elementary school was 159 times more likely to be overweight at age 12 when compared to children who were never overweight during that time frame.
A child who was overweight three times while in elementary school was 374times more likely to be overweight at age 12 when compared to children who were never overweight during that time frame.
You can read more about this study in the September 2006 issue of the journal Pediatrics.