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Weight fate

A child's 'weight fate' may be decided by age five

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 by: J. Anderson
Tags: weight fate, childhood obesity, healthy eating

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(NaturalNews) While there has been a large amount of focus on decreasing child obesity in schools, recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) indicates that a child's future weight (termed "weight fate") may be decided by age five. For example, the study found that over half of the children that were obese by the 8th grade were also obese at the start of kindergarten!

Child obesity and obesity in general are known to increase the risk of long-term chronic mental and medical problems. Not only can child obesity have long-term effects, but it can also have short-term consequences as well. Compared to normal-weight children, obese children are 200% more likely to suffer from at least three mental, developmental or medical conditions (overweight children are 30% more likely). Even though we know that there can be grave consequences for child obesity, about a third of all children in the United States are obese or overweight.

The NEJM study followed over 7,700 children through grade school. Of those participants, 12% entered kindergarten as obese, with 21% being obese by 8th grade. Likewise, half of the children that entered grade school as overweight ended up being obese by the time they became teenagers. These overweight children were five times more likely to become obese compared to their normal-weight counterparts!

The importance of this study is that it demonstrates to researchers, pediatricians and parents that preventing obesity should occur earlier than previously thought. This also indicates the importance of teaching good health practices early on in life. The lead author of the study, Solveig Cunningham, said, "A lot of the risk of obesity seems to be set, to some extent, really early in life." Cunningham indicated that our view and understanding of child obesity keeps changing: "we keep pushing our critical window earlier and earlier on."

The study helps us understand that we can help change or alter our children's "weight fate" by implementing healthy eating and exercise practices at an earlier age. While the study doesn't recommend having your child running laps on the track at a very young age, it does indicate that, because obesity is such a hard condition to treat, it's important to instill a healthy nutrition and fitness mindset early in life.

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