Early Childhood Obesity May Be Predicted by An Infant’s BMI
Following a recent study, scientists say that an infant’s BMI could be a predictor which children are more likely to be obese by the age of 6 years.
Dr Allison Smego, study lead investigator and paediatric endocrinology fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre said, “Our study shows that growth patterns in children who become severely obese by 6 years of age differ from normal weight children as young as 4 to 6 months of age”.
Normally the BMI tool isn’t routinely used on children younger than 2 years old but the researchers are hoping that their study will change that mindset.
For the study, the children all had a BMI above the 99th percentile. The researchers examined electronic health records of 480 severely obese children between 2 and 6 years in the Cincinnati area.
Children are considered overweight when the BMI is at or above the 85th percentile for their age and gender. Those with a BMI at the 95th percentile or higher are considered obese.
The records of nearly 800 kids between 2 and 6 years old who were at a healthy weight and had a BMI between the 5th and 75th percentiles were also analysed by the researchers.
The study noted that most of the obese children were black and from low-income households and that BMI began to shift in different directions among infants in the two groups as early as 4 months old.
To confirm their findings, the researchers repeated their study in a third group of nearly 2,650 children in Colorado. This trial, which involved more Hispanic children, showed that a BMI above the 85th percentile at least tripled the likelihood that a child would struggle with severe obesity by the age of 6 years.
The study authors concluded that a BMI above the 85th percentile at 6, 12 or 18 months of age was a strong predictor of severe obesity by the age of 6 years.
The study’s findings were expected to be presented Friday at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, in Boston. Until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary.
In a news release from the Endocrine Society Smego said, “Based on our findings, we recommend that paediatricians routinely measure BMI at infant well-child assessments beginning at 6 months, identify high-risk infants with BMI above the 85th percentile, and focus additional counselling and education regarding healthy lifestyle toward the families of these children,”
Smego also added, “It might take the paediatrician a minute to look at BMI, yet it gives them a wealth of knowledge about how their patient is growing.”
Reference: BMI Trajectory of Severely Obese Children Diverges from Normal Weight Children During Infancy
Authors: Smego A, Woo J G, Klein J et al
OR 07-5 Presented at ENDO 2016 in Boston, April 1-4