Measurements Determine Likelihood of Adolescent Obesity
A new study has shown that childrenwho are overweight before the age of 12are more likely to be overweight by thetime they reach age 12. The study included1000 US children born in 1991?around the time the "obesity epidemic"started gaining attention. Researcherstook measurements of the children at 7different times in their childhood: at 2years, at 3 years, at 4? years, at 7 years,at 9 years, at 11 years, and at age 12.
They found that the more times a childwas recorded as being medically overweight,the more likely he or she was to beoverweight at age 12. One overweightmeasurement meant the child was 25times more likely to be overweight; 3 overweightmeasurements made the child 374times more likely to be overweight.
Philip K. Nader, MD, of the University ofCalifornia, San Diego School of Medicine,said, "These results suggest that anytime a child reaches the 85th percentilefor BMI [body mass index] may be anappropriate time for an intervention."Percentiles and their correspondingweight levels are listed in the followingtable from the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention:
The 95th percentile:
- Corresponds to a BMI of 30, which isthe marker for obesity in adults. The85th percentile corresponds to theoverweight reference point foradults, which is a BMI of 25.
- Is recommended as a marker forchildren and adolescents to have anin-depth medical assessment
- Identifies children who are very likelyto have obesity persist into adulthood
- Is associated with elevated bloodpressure and lipids in older adolescentsand increases their risk of diseases
- Is a criterion for more aggressivetreatment
- Is a criterion in clinical research trialsof childhood-obesity treatments
Risk Factors for Overweight/Obese Children and Adolescents
- Cardiovascular disease*
- High cholesterol
- Elevated insulin levels
- Elevated blood pressure during childhood
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea (not breathing for atleast 10 seconds during sleep)
- Social consequences including poorself-esteem and social discrimination,which can lead to depression
*One study showed that approximately60% of overweight children had atleast one cardiovascular risk factor, suchas high cholesterol or high blood pressure;in comparison, only 10% of childrenwith healthy weight had at least one riskfactor. Additionally, 25% of overweightchildren had 2 or more risk factors.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.