Childhood Obesity risk factor can be calculated at Birth

Credit: National Cancer Insitute (photographer unknown) - PD

(Best Syndication News) - Researchers have devised a method to calculate a baby’s chance of becoming obese during childhood. The risk factor is determined by the baby’s birth weight, the parent’s body mass index (BMI), how many people live in the household, the mother’s professional status, and if she smoked during pregnancy. The study was published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers developed this method to identify risk factors by analyzing information from 4,000 children in Finland that were followed starting in 1986. First, the researchers tried to determine genetic profiles that could predict obesity, but that failed to work. Then they looked at non-genetic information that was collected at the time of birth. The formula they finally developed worked in the Finnish cohort. So they tested the calculations using information collected in the US and Italy. With that data they were able to predict childhood obesity from the risk factors.

There are no lab tests needed, and it is simple to determine the risk factor for newborn babies using an online calculator. They created a free web-based calculator at http://files-good.ibl.fr/childhood-obesity/.

Professor Philippe Froguel, from the School of Public Health at the Imperial College in London, said the test is quick to take and costs nothing. He also explains that when a child becomes obese it is almost impossible for them to lose weight. By offering parents education about over-feeding and bad nutrition early on, it might stave-off the unwanted excessive weight gain.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

ref: A Morandi et al. 'Estimation of newborn risk for child or adolescent obesity: lessons from longitudinal birth cohorts' PLOS ONE 28 November 2012.
http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0049919

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