Age two is obesity tipping point

Posted on Feb 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


AP START EARLY: An obese child skipping rope. Research shows that very early, a child develops a propensity towards obesity.

The tipping point in obesity often occurs before two years of age, and sometimes as early as three months, when the child is learning how much and what to eat, says new research.

While many adults consider a chubby baby healthy, too many plump infants grow up to be obese teens, saddling them with Type-2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, says a new study.

“I really think this should be a wake up call for doctors,” said principal study investigator John Harrington, paediatrician and professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS).

“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,” added Mr. Harrington.

This study comes in the midst of alarming rates of childhood obesity, which now ranks among the most prominent health concerns in the US today.

Researchers examined records from a paediatric practice of 111 children whose body mass index (BMI-height to weight ratio) exceeded 85 percent of the general population.

Researchers determined that these children had started gaining weight in infancy at an average rate of .08 excess BMI units per month.

On average, this progression began when the children were three months old. Over half the children became overweight at or before age two and 90 percent before reaching their fifth birthday.

The Clinical Paediatrics study suggests obesity prevention efforts should begin before age two, when children reach a tipping point in a progression that leads to obesity later in life.

“Our study suggests that doctors may want to start reviewing the diet of children during early child visits,” said Mr. Harrington.

“Getting parents and children to change habits that have already taken hold is a monumental challenge fraught with road¬blocks and disappointments,” said Mr. Harrington.

This study indicates that we may need to discuss inappropriate weight gain early in infancy to affect meaningful changes in the current trend of obesity.”

These findings were published this month in Clinical Paediatrics.