Predicting Obesity

A baby’s body mass index (BMI) may help to predict childhood obesity, a new study finds. Researchers hope that the study may help to arm parents with ways they could prevent their children from becoming unhealthy by intervening in their child’s development at an early stage.

The study, from researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), found that infant BMI could be useful in predicting obesity at age four.

BMI is a measurement that takes height and weight into account, to approximate body fat content. Doctors know that BMI reaches its peak in infancy – usually between eight and nine months.

While doctor’s aren’t in agreement about what an “ideal” BMI should be for infants, the new research indicates that there may be a relationship between higher BMI in infancy and a child having greater propensity toward developing childhood obesity a few years later.

The researchers analyzed the electronic health records of 2,114 healthy Philadelphia-area infants. They compared findings in terms of race, as well as ancestry, in an effort to determine which factors may put children at greater risk of becoming obese.

Interestingly, they determined that infancy BMI played a more important role than ancestry in determining the risk of childhood obesity. This means that there may be ways for parents to intervene in their child’s development, and perhaps prevent them from developing health risks later in life.

The researchers stressed that there is currently no consensus definition of obesity in children less than two years old. However, determining one may just be the key to helping give parents the information they need to track their child’s health from a very early stage of their lives.

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