Big babies may become obese adults

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 4th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Worrying about obesity is not for adults only. It’s for babies, too… well… maybe for babies’ parents.

In a recent review of two-dozen studies linking a baby’s size and later obesity, researchers found two predictors. The first was in infants with the highest body mass index… or B-M-I. The second was in babies… especially those with low birth weights… who put on pounds quickly in their first two years. Apparently making up for lost calories in too short a time isn’t healthy for babies… and could ultimately lead to a lifelong battle of the bulge.

While researchers don’t know why large and fast-growing babies are at higher risk for obesity, they want to study how these babies grow to find out what makes them obese children, teens and adults. Studying infants and children may help prevent obesity in adults.

Worldwide, an estimated one-hundred-fifty-five-million school-aged children are overweight, and thirty-five to forty million of them are obese, says the International Obesity Task Force.

Too little exercise, larger meals and changing diets are some reasons why childhood obesity is on the rise. Now researchers want to look at habits in infancy, too, like infant feeding, being breastfed or bottle fed, age at weaning and other social factors.

As for low birth weight in infants, health experts say making sure women are properly nourished throughout pregnancy helps infants start out at an optimal weight, followed up by breastfeeding, which provides babies the nutrients they need for normal development.