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Future obesity predicted in young children

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Future obesity predicted in young children

Researchers at the University of Montreal can predict whether children will become obese by observing their mothers’ behaviour around the time they give birth.

Obesity is a widespread and well-publicized health problem in North America. It’s an especially disturbing trend in children. Now researchers at the University of Montreal can predict whether children will become obese by observing their mothers’ behaviour around the time they give birth.

The Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development ran from 1998 to 2002, providing researchers with data on 1,957 children. The children’s height and weight was measured several times over the course of the study.  Researchers were then able to study their body mass index (BMI).

Children were categorized into three groups:

  • low but stable BMI
  • moderate BMI, and
  • elevated and rising BMI (also called high-rising BMI)

High risk group
No major differences were found among the three groups until children reached two-and-a-half years of age. At that point, the high-rising BMI group began to gain weight. By the time they had reached mid-childhood, more than 50 percent of this group were obese.

Two important factors
Two factors were found to be much more important than any others in determining whether children would fall into this high-risk group. They were significantly more likely to have either:

  • a mother who was overweight during pregnancy
  • a mother who smoked during pregnancy

More research is needed to determine how these factors increase the likelihood of childhood obesity.

Children's nutrition requirements aren't the same as adults'. Find out if your child needs a nutrient top-up.

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