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A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound that children whose mothers are obese are 15 times more likely to become obese by age 6. Researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania studied 70 children at the hospital for 6 years? half the children had overweight moms and half had lean moms. During infancy, the 2 groups of children had comparable weight and body fat. After turning 3, one third of the children with overweight mothers had gained weight quickly. Dr. Robert Berkowitz, study author, said that families'eating and exercise habits play a part, but he and his colleagues are examining genetic factors as well. Researchers found that a dramatic increase in weight may occur between ages 3 and 6, suggesting that "some genes controlling body weight may become active during this period." Dr. Berkowitz asserts that prevention and treatment programs should begin earlier and that physicians should start monitoring children of overweight parents by age 4 at the latest.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.