Up until now doctors have only started monitoring a child’s obesity risk at the two year mark, but a new study is suggesting that we might be able to see the risk for severe obesity as early as six months old. This is a good finding, since the earlier babies can be screened for the condition, the earlier prevention tools can be put into place.
The study was carried out at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center where researchers figured out that they could pinpoint the babies who would go on to obesity by tracking the BMI as babies. The body mass index is calculated using both the weight and the height, and then they input these numbers onto a graph.
Their findings showed that babies gain weight differently if they are likely to go to be obese when they are older, which makes this the first the determine this truth.
The researchers also analyzed the information from a larger group of children from all different backgrounds. There were all under the age of six, and 783 of them had lean body weights while 480 of them were considered severely obese. They found that the children who were severely obese by the age of six had shown signs through their body mass index by the age of four months old.
The study’s lead author Dr. Allison Smego, who is a fellow in the division of Endocrinology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center, suggests that doctors should change their monitoring practice.
“We found in this study that growth patterns differ at 6 months of age in kids who become severely obese. We recommend that pediatricians start to monitor BMI at 6 months of age and onward.”
The study was also repeated and confirmed for a third time on a group of 2,650 children who were treated at a pediatric clinic in Denver.
Childhood obesity is a huge deal because it can lead into big health problems down the line. In the childhood years kids are not necessarily aware of the choices out there when it comes to health and fitness, nor would they have access to options on their own even if they did make their own decisions.
For these reasons it becomes extremely important that the parents and families of children who are high risk for obesity to become educated about what they should be feeding their children and what they should not.
Dr. Smego continued to say:
“We think we really should be more concerned earlier in order to prevent obesity, instead of playing catch up. Once they’re transitioned off formula, we need to talk about what are the healthy choices families can make.”
The researchers are unclear why the BMI of the young babies is such an accurate predictor, but they plan on doing further studies to continue learning about it.