Can obesity be predicted from infancy?
As early as two months into a baby's life, a child has exhibited growth patterns that can predict their weight by age five--including patterns of obesity. That’s the conclusion of a team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University and Tennessee State University, who found that growth patterns emerge in infancy, and children who fall on the heavy side of growth charts at that young age are more likely to be overweight at age five.
The researchers found that normal-weight babies with a BMI in the 17th percentile were found to have plateaued at about two months and rarely deviated until age five. But their research determined that overweight or obese babies crossed the 17th percentile line months later – at about 14 months of age – but then continued to climb. Through those early years, normal-weight children developed differently than overweight ones.
For this study, 221 children were selected from 4,000 records of healthy children under the care of a health maintenance organization. Each had weight, height and medical records from nine well check-ups over the first five years of their lives. The different growth patterns began to emerge around the time the babies started to eat solid foods.
Prior studies indicate that a mother's diet during pregnancy might contribute to a baby's hormones and the ability to satisfy its hunger.