Kindergarten weight strong indicator of childhood obesity, study finds

Kindergarten weight strong indicator of childhood obesity, study finds

The researchers looked at data on children who took part in an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the U.S. Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999.

According to a news release from Emory Health Sciences, kindergarten weight is a strong indicator of childhood obesity.

Researchers from Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health have learned that overweight kindergartners were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese by the 8th grade.

The researchers looked at data on children who took part in an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the U.S. Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999. They concentrated their findings on the rate of incidence of obesity in overweight and normal weight children starting kindergarten.

“Although trends in the prevalence of obesity are well documented, there is surprisingly little known about new cases of childhood obesity,” says Solveig A. Cunningham, PhD, assistant professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Rollins School of Public Health¬†Cunningham. “Examining incidence may provide insight into the nature of the epidemic, the critically vulnerable ages, and the groups who are at greater risk for obesity.”

Utilizing the CDC ¬†Growth Charts to determine each child’s BMI, the researchers figured out cutoffs for normal weight, overweight and obesity. They discovered the following:

  • More than 12 percent of children start kindergarten obese.
  • More than 14 percent of children start kindergarten overweight and are four times more likely than normal weight children to become obese by the eighth grade.
  • Children who were big at birth and are overweight by kindergarten are at the greatest risk of becoming obese before age 14.

“Our findings uncovered several important points by examining incidence over time,” notes Cunningham. “We have evidence that certain factors established before birth and during the first five years are important. Obesity-prevention efforts focused on children who are overweight by five-years-old may be a way to target children susceptible to becoming obese later in life.”

 

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