According to a new study, babies who are overweight at 9-months-old have an increased risk of becoming obese by the age of 2-years-old. This study, published in, American Journal of Health Promotion, is the first of its kind to follow up a representative sample of children and the results show that even children are prone to obesity. Researchers clarify that the study does not link baby fat and obesity in adults. “But they report that being overweight as babies may increase the chances of obesity in early childhood," says study researcher Brian Moss, PhD, of Detroit’s Wayne State University.
In this study, children whose body weight is in the 85th to 95th percentile on standard growth charts were considered to be at risk for becoming obese, while babies and children above 2-years-old whose weight were above the 95th percentile were considered obese. Body weight data of 7,500 children recruited for the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort was tracked at the age of 9-months-old and later at the age of 2-years-old.
Results of the analysis showed that 32% of the children were at risk of becoming obese or were obese at 9-months-old and 34% were at risk of obesity when the body weight was tracked at 2-years-old. Children who were obese when they were 9-months-old had the highest risk of becoming obese when they reached 2-years-old. About 44% of the children, who were obese as per the study definition, remained obese when they were 2-years-old. The overall percentage of children who were obese when they were 9-months-old was 17% and this increased to 20% when the children reached 2-years-old.
The highest risk of obesity among children was noted in Hispanic children and children living in low-income families. About 40% of the children in the lowest income families were obese or at risk of obesity when compared to 27% of the children in the high income families. About 40% of the Hispanic children were obese or at risk of obesity when compared to 31% of whites and 35% of blacks.
Although chubbiness in babies is associated with increased risk of obesity in early childhood, it does not mean that the child should be put on a diet. According to Joyce Lee, MD, assistant professor in pediatric endocrinology and health services research at the University of Michigan, and a childhood obesity expert, children who are exclusively breast fed or bottle fed should not be denied the same. When parents introduce the solid foods one should deliberately make the healthy choices. This is because many children are introduced to junk food at an early age. “Avoiding junk food and having more of fruits and veggies in the children’s platter can really make a difference in the weight of the child," says Lee.