The Norman Transcript

Homepage

January 30, 2014

Obesity risk starts before school age

NORMAN — Those efforts to fight obesity in schools? Think younger. A new study finds that much of a child’s “weight fate” is set by age 5, and that nearly half of kids who became obese by the eighth grade were already overweight when they started kindergarten.

The prevalence of weight problems has long been known — about a third of U.S. kids are overweight or obese. But surprisingly little is known about which kids will develop obesity, and at what age.

Researchers think there may be a window of opportunity to prevent it, and “we keep pushing our critical window earlier and earlier on,” said Solveig Cunningham, a scientist at Emory University. “A lot of the risk of obesity seems to be set, to some extent, really early in life.”

She led the new study, which was published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine and paid for by the federal government.

It tracked a nationwide sample of more than 7,700 children through grade school. When they started kindergarten, 12 percent were obese and 15 percent were overweight. By eighth grade, 21 percent were obese and 17 percent were overweight.

Besides how common obesity was at various ages, researchers focused on the 6,807 children who were not obese when the study started. Here are some things they found:

Who became obese: Between ages 5 and 14, nearly 12 percent of children developed obesity — 10 percent of girls and nearly 14 percent of boys.

Nearly half of kids who started kindergarten overweight became obese teens. Overweight 5-year-olds were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese.

Grade levels: During the kindergarten year, about 5 percent of kids who had not been obese at the start became that way by the end. The greatest increase in the prevalence of obesity was between first and third grades; it changed little from ages 11 to 14.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines

Sports

Opinion

Features

Must Read

Editorials

Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Business

Photos


Facebook