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Childhood Obesity Set Before Age 5

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 12:50PM by Registered CommenterPennino Corp. CEO | CommentsPost a Comment | References32 References

Childhood obesity is set before the age of five, ministers will hear from researchers later.

Compared to children in the 1980s, today's youngsters are fatter and most of their excess weight gain happens before school age, they will say.

This suggests initiatives to prevent childhood obesity should be started before school, suggest the authors.

The EarlyBird Diabetes study of 233 children from birth to puberty is being published in the journal Pediatrics.

One in four children aged four to five in England are overweight, latest figures show.

Disease 'of our time'

At birth, the children in the study were of similar weight to babies 25 years ago, but had gained more fat by puberty compared with children of the same age in the 1980s.

The bulk of this excess weight was gained before the children were five.

Weight at five years bore little relation to birth weight, but closely predicted weight at nine years old.

Before an obese girl reaches school age she will have already gained 90% of her excess weight, and boys will have gained 70% of their excess weight.

Lead researcher Professor Terry Wilkin, of the Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, said: "When they reach the age of five the die seems to be cast, at least until the age of puberty.

"What is causing it is very difficult to know."

He said there must be a factor now that was not there 25 years ago which is making today's children obese.

And, given the young age, this is likely to be in a child's home rather than school environment and linked to upbringing rather than schooling.

Diet blamed

Rather than lack of physical exercise, he believes diet could be to blame.

"It is entirely possible that the calorie density of food and portion sizes could be higher."

Read the rest of the article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7786229.stm

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