Babies' BMI could predict childhood obesity

12 March 2015

A new study has suggested that observing an infant's body mass index (BMI) could help determine whether or not they will experience childhood obesity.

Researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) say that this better understanding of infant growth may help develop more effective early efforts at obesity prevention.

With the importance of obesity-related health problems, the team looked at whether BMI in infants could be used to determine those at a higher risk of being obese in childhood, which would help develop better prevention strategies, according to study leader Dr Shana McCormack, a pediatric endocrinologist at CHOP. 

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the study analysed ancestry-based differences in growth patterns, and found apparent differences that were present at nine months of age, which were linked to obesity risk.

They identified significantly different growth trajectories between African-American infants and white infants. In African-American children, the peak BMI was around 12 days earlier and three per cent higher than in white children who were primarily from European ancestry. 

The researchers concluded that, overall, African-American infants appeared to have more than twice the risk of obesity at age four compared to white infants.

Posted by Phillip Briggs

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