June 27, 2013
Obesity May Be Predicted Months After Birth
Obesity has become a larger issue over the last decade as the people of the United States become larger. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States is ranked number nine in terms of the percentage of people that are overweight within the country. The number one spot goes to a country called Nauru. The problem with this ranking, though, is that the number of people that are overweight in the United States greatly outweighs the number of people in Nauru. If we were to put the rankings in terms of the actual number of people that are overweight within a country, the United States would actually take the number one spot on this list.
It is for this reason that researches are continuing to look into ways of predicting obesity early on so that we can combat it. For many people, obesity is a preventable chronic illness and can be fixed by changing their diet and exercising regularly. The hardest part is being able to maintain that lifestyle.
Researcher Susan Ludington wants to be able to detect obesity at the very young age of two months. Her research shows that children as young as two months show a plateau that generally doesn’t deviate as they begin to grow up. The biggest difference between this study when compared to others that have been done is they, Ludington, had access to maternity records, which contained a great amount of information on the mother during pre-birth and certain conditions such as whether the mother smoked or ate certain types of foods.
The research showed that by the age of 5, children that grew up to be normal weight, according to the Body Mass Index, showed a different growth pattern when compared to those that grew up to be obese. Ludington wanted to make sure that the children were not affected by anything but the normal diet and growth. This meant that the children had no hospital visits and had nine regular check-ups. This means that the data isn’t skewed and showed a pattern that may not have been seen in other studies that monitored and measured a child’s obesity.
It is still unsure what really triggers this pattern, but current research leans to what the mother eats and how much physical activity she does during pregnancy. They have also looked into the possibility that the United States’ focus on formula, rather than real breast milk, could be a factor in whether a child is to become obese or not.
They note in the research that the BMI is based on a European study that only uses natural breast milk fed babies and may be hard to replicate if the babies are fed formula. There is still too much unknown information right now to really determine what causes obesity in very young children, but this new study gives researches insight into possibilities that there are certain signatures in growth that show how a child will progress and whether they are more prone to obesity as they age.
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