Obesity set before age of five

BBC News Link
Childhood obesity is set before the age of five, ministers will hear from researchers later.

Compared to children in the 1980s, today's youngsters are fatter and most of their excess weight gain happens before school age, they will say.

This suggests initiatives to prevent childhood obesity should be started before school, suggest the authors.

The EarlyBird Diabetes study of 233 children from birth to puberty is being published in the journal Pediatrics.

One in four children aged four to five in England are overweight, latest figures show.

Disease 'of our time'

At birth, the children in the study were of similar weight to babies 25 years ago, but had gained more fat by puberty compared with children of the same age in the 1980s. When they reach the age of five the die seems to be cast

Professor Terry Wilkin
University of Bristol

The bulk of this excess weight was gained before the children were five.

Weight at five years bore little relation to birth weight, but closely predicted weight at nine years old.

Before an obese girl reaches school age she will have already gained 90% of her excess weight, and boys will have gained 70% of their excess weight.

Lead researcher Professor Terry Wilkin, of the Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, said: "When they reach the age of five the die seems to be cast, at least until the age of puberty.

"What is causing it is very difficult to know."

He said there must be a factor now that was not there 25 years ago which is making today's children obese.

And, given the young age, this is likely to be in a child's home rather than school environment and linked to upbringing rather than schooling.

Rather than lack of physical exercise, he believes diet could be to blame.

"It is entirely possible that the calorie density of food and portion sizes could be higher."

He said strategies to prevent childhood obesity and its associated health problems, such as diabetes, might do better to focus on pre-school children.

Professor Wilkin said there had been a lot of focus on school meals, PE time, school runs, television viewing and computer games in the development of childhood obesity, but these are all issues for school age children.

But he said the mandatory measurement of the height and weight of all children in England on school entry at the age of four or five could be helpful, not only as a record of national obesity trends, but also as a pointer to future risk for the individual child.

Professor Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England, said: "We need to get in early and build the foundations to healthy living at a very early stage."

However, he added: "It is never too late. Obesity is one of the few medical problems that can be reversed very, very quickly."

Professor Donaldson said eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day was one of the most important elements of a healthy diet.

David Haslam, of the National Obesity Forum, said: "It is never too late or too early to intervene. The earlier the better in terms of long-term outlook."

He said early childhood obesity was likely to be down to environment and learned behaviours.
Great news it means the porky ******* now realise they have Gland problems earlier. But it isn't helped by the parents, giving them a bucket of crisps and a gallon of diet coke to shut them up inbetween meals

But as Christmas is round the corner and we are in the grips of a credit crunch, feed the fat feckers up for the next 8 days, shove and apple in their mouth, and cook on gas mark 7 for approx 3 hours depending on the weight of the beast.

And heypresto a free scoff, and no urching hanging round your neck for the next 18 years saving a vast fortune in the longrun
What a load of old bollox !!

I know of fat kids who grew up to be thin adults and are still thin into middle age as well as thin kids (girls especially) who have massively gone to pot.

This sounds like another Govt opportunity to control our kids and stop them being kids. There will be prescribed rations for them and if you don't follow the rules you will have them taken away from you.

The earlier you get them and start interfering in their lives the easier it is to keep them obediant when they become adults.

Try and find products that don't have sugar in them. I used to get annoyed shopping in the Commissary in Yankland as pretty much everything was flavoured with corn syrup (still is too). I used to yearn for less sweet food from home.

Nowadays, I have to look closely at food here too. Try looking at the ingredient label of pretty much anything tinned and you will find sugar in there. Looking at diary as well, even "low fat" products generally have a v high carbohydrate content, which crucially the majority will sugar to give us that instant buzz we need to buy again. Oh and as folk generally have a more sedate life style, means weight gain and a greater strain on the body as it fights to do something with the energy. For kids that means laying down fat.

As a nation, our taste buds are knackered and we are hooked on convenience foods. Food companies know that subtle flavours don't sell and so stack products with either sugar or salt.

These days the only tins I buy are of tomatoes. Everything else I cook from scratch and I use a lot of fresh and dried herbs for taste. I know that in the long run my kids and I will be healthier by doing so.

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