Obese Children Are Often More Obese Adults

Obese Children Are Often More Obese Adults

It has been long thought that there is a direct relationship between childhood obesity and one’s tendency to carry that obesity into adulthood. Not only are one’s eating habits and proclivities established at a young age, but certain physiological changes are established during childhood as well. Both habits and physiological tend to follow a person from childhood into the adult years.

William Dietz, Jr., MD, PhD, Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health and Committee on Energy and Commerce. In his testimony he quoted John F. Kennedy as saying “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” He went on to further testify on the “tragedy of millions of children lacking… proper nutrition”. Further he laments the fact that today, improper nutrition, together with a lack of physical activity and extended time spent in front of the television, are fundamental factors for the roughly 12.5 million cases of childhood obesity in the U.S.

He has concluded that three crucial stages can be identified relating to the development of obesity. These three stages are pre-adulthood and span the years preceding. These stages are defined as the prenatal period, childhood between the ages of 5 and 7, and adolescence.

The prenatal stage: Even though additional study is necessary to thoroughly comprehend the relationship involving nutrition throughout gestation and birth weight to the beginning of obesity down the road in life, a number of studies indicate a relationship. For instance, studies have shown that a larger occurrence of adult obesity is present in babies born to diabetic moms who have a tendency to put on an above-average amount of weight throughout pregnancy and have bigger babies. An additional piece of research indicates that babies who are undernourished throughout the first two trimesters in uteri experience an elevated risk of obesity as they get older.

Childhood (ages 5 through 7): In typical development throughout the initial 12 months of life, an infant’s body weight, particularly the amount of fat or adipose tissue, is greater in ratio to the baby’s height. Progressively, the weight-to-height ratio diminishes. Subsequently, between 5 through 7 years of age, children naturally build up their fat stores. Health professionals refer to this phase as adiposity rebound. Several longitudinal studies indicate that children having their adiposity rebound occurring earlier, before the age of 5 1/2 for instance, tend to be fatter and heavier as adolescents and adults. The theory holds that children who experience their adipose rebound earlier than normal grow fatter for an extended period of time.

Adolescence (ages 10 to 13): Further research indicates that upwards of 80 percent of kids who are defined as obese throughout adolescence continue to be obese as adults. Unfortunately girls have an increased risk than boys for becoming and remaining overweight. For that matter, several research trials indicate that upwards of 30 percent of all overweight adult women were overweight as adolescents.

Read more about the testimony of Dr. Dietz before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health here: