Chubby babies have always been considered the healthiest. But could those cute cheeks actually determine whether or not the child is to become an obese teenager and maybe even adult?
Obesity can lead to various conditions in the future, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and premature death. New research from the US suggests that the “tipping point“ occurs before the age of 2, sometimes as early as 3 months.
Researchers looked at the medical history of over 100 obese teenagers and found that half were overweight by the age of 2 and by 5 the figure had risen to 90%.
Lead reseacher, pediatrician and assistant professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School Dr. John Harrington commented: “I really think this should be a wake-up call for doctors … Too often, doctors wait until medical complications arise before they begin treatment. What this study suggests is that prevention of obesity should begin far, far earlier.”
The study suggests that eating habits may also be set by that early age, thus contributing to the potential weight problem in the future.
Dr. Harrington added: “Getting parents and children to change habits that have already taken hold is a monumental challenge fraught with road-blocks and disappointments. This study indicates that we may need to discuss inappropriate weight gain early in infancy to effect meaningful changes in the current trend of obesity.”
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that approximately 37% of American kids are overweight and around 16% of those aged 2 to 19 are obese, MSNBC reported. Furthermore, cdc.gov reported that, according to one study, around 80% of children who were overweight at ages 10 to 15 were obese adults at 25 years.
A Department of Health spokesperson told the BBC: “What happens in the first years of a baby’s life has a big effect on how healthy they are in the future. Despite recent encouraging statistics which show that childhood obesity may be levelling off, obesity levels are still too high and it is important we keep the momentum going.”
Michelle Obama recently launched an initiative to combat childhood obesity, which has risen significantly in the last 20 years. The first lady spoke in a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, saying that idea was simple, USA Today reported. Her intention: “To put in place common-sense initiatives and solutions that empower families and communities to make healthy decisions for their kids.”
Images: Wikimedia CommonsTags: obesity