Baby Fat Puts Children's Health at Risk
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Any notion that "baby fat" disappears in children as they make the transition to adolescence is a myth that, if not abandoned, may put the future health of children at risk, say researchers from University College London in England.
Researchers tracked 5,863 children as they developed into young adults. They discovered those who had excess weight before age 11 continued that way during adolescence.
"Children who are obese when they enter secondary school will very likely leave it obese," study authors say.
Previous studies support this contention and note adolescence is an important time to eat a healthier diet, since excess weight during teenage years predisposes adults to continued weight problems -- with all the associated health risks.
Researchers looked at annual measurements of weight, height, Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumferences of children between ages 11 and 12 and 16 and 17 throughout 36 schools across South London, providing a broad social and ethnic mix.
The study revealed girls from some ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to be overweight or obese. That puts them at even more danger of having long-term health problems, according to the study authors.
Researchers discovered overall, girls had higher rates of excess weight problems than boys did. Black girls had particularly high levels, with an average of 38 per cent being overweight or obese, compared with 28 percent for white girls, or 20 percent for Southeast Asian girls.
For boys, however, ethnicity made little difference to excess weight levels.
Researchers say the results were less clear-cut for economic status. Thirty-five percent of the most deprived girls were overweight or obese compared with 28 percent of the other girls.
Authors conclude more monitoring during formative years is crucial if the rising tides of obesity are to be tackled effectively.
SOURCE: The British Medical Journal, published online May 4, 2006