Being fat by five years of age is risky, according to a new study published today by The New England Journal of Medicine. It found that if a child is obese or overweight by kindergarten, then he or she has a greater chance of obesity in adolescence and possibly adulthood.
The statistics point to a four times greater chance of being obese by eighth grade if overweight in kindergarten. According to Emory University in Atlanta and the Rollins School of Public Health, an assistant professor named Solveig Cunningham believes the risk is already there by age five.
A birth weight of eight pounds and 13 ounces or greater, added additional risk to being overweight in kindergarten. In turn this scenario gave the child the greatest risk of obesity by age 14. So for prevention purposes, instruction of healthy eating needs to begin before kindergarten and elementary school. Two earlier studies point to factors such as families who watch too much TV or maybe didn’t eat together had higher risks overall.
Cunningham doesn’t want people to be discouraged, rather the public should also know one-third of kindergartners who are overweight do become obese, but two-thirds of them don’t.
This research also showed that black and Hispanic children are at higher risk for obesity in adolescents. The percentages reveal disparities of color in this obesity equation. Seventeen percent of blacks, 14 percent of Hispanics and 10 percent of whites go on to be obese, if obese or overweight in kindergarten. Being fat by five years of age is a health risk, revealed by this latest study out today.
One family is enrolled at Duke Children’s Healthy Lifestyles, where they learn good food choices and benefits of exercise. The mother of two young children had heart surgery last year and is now relearning ways to take better care of herself and her family at an early age.
The real shocker is one out of every eight children in kindergarten in the U.S. is obese, not fat, but obese. When they hit the eighth grade one in five kids in the U.S. is obese, with additional children overweight at the 17 percent mark. Since the 1980’s obesity doubled in kids and tripled in preteens. Risks associated with the condition of obesity is type II diabetes, arthritis and the seriousness of strokes.
Possibly, with this study researchers hope that a focus will be placed upon the vulnerable five year old who is fat and at risk. How can they be helped to overcome an obese adolescence or adulthood? The NICHHD or National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, funded this study when obesity rates soared. The researchers were limited in that they did not know the toddlers weight or how they fared beyond eighth grade. They did know birth weight.
This new major study looked at 7,000 children from kindergarten to eighth grade and began in 1998. Some kindergartners actually lost weight, their fat status, and some who were normal became overweight. Genetic influences are also present and difficult to overcome, but healthy diets and exercise can help the gene effect.
Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, of the Emory Global Health Institutes in Atlanta, says, “It is almost as if you can make it to kindergarten without the weight, your chances are immensely better.” The message researchers feel is important is obesity and its risks, gain hold very early, by age five when the child is fat.
By Kim Troike