A study from the Harvard MedicalSchool's department of ambulatory careand prevention shows that today's childrenand babies are more likely to beoverweight. The study reviewed morethan 120,000 children aged 6 years andunder in Massachusetts over a 22-yeartime period and found that, based onheight and weight measures, the prevalenceof overweight kids increased from6.3% to 10%. For children at risk ofbecoming overweight, that statistic grewfrom 11.1% to 14.4%. Infants had thegreatest jump in the risk of becomingoverweight, an increase of 74% over the22 years reviewed. Senior authorMatthew Gillman, MD, says that figure issignificant because "previous studiesshow that accelerated weight gain in thefirst few months after birth is associatedwith obesity later in life." According tonew data from the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, kids who arebetween the 85th and 95th percentile ofthe weight-for-height index are consideredat risk for becoming overweight,and kids who are in the 95th percentileor higher are considered to be overweight.Gillman adds, "These resultsshow that efforts to prevent obesitymust start at the earliest stages ofhuman development, even before birth.These efforts should include avoidingsmoking and excessive weight gain duringpregnancy, preventing gestationaldiabetes, and promoting breast-feeding,all of which researchers have shown tobe associated with reductions in childhoodoverweight." Results can be foundin the July issue of Obesity.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.