(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The current epidemic of childhood obesity could
start when some babies are just six months old.
Boston investigators analyzed data on 559 pregnant women and their children.
They found babies who gained the most weight during infancy were significantly
more likely to be obese at age three. Just a 1.5 pound difference at six months,
for example, conferred a 40 percent higher obesity risk.
"There is increasing evidence that rapid changes in weight during infancy
increase children's risk of later obesity," study author Elsie Taveras, from
Children's Hospital Boston, was quoted as saying. "The mounting evidence
suggests that infancy may be a critical period during which to prevent childhood
obesity and its related consequences."
While emphasizing more research is needed to pin down the link between early
weight gain and later obesity, the investigators believe these findings suggest
a need to rethink our traditional views of what a healthy baby looks like.
"There is still a lot more we need to understand about the mechanisms of how
this all fits together," continues Taveras. "But this data clearly shows how the
earliest interventions might actually have very long-term benefits . . . we need
to find out how to modify weight gain in infancy in ways that balance the needs
of the brain and the body."
SOURCE: Pediatrics, published online March 30, 2009