Large infants, and those who grow rapidly during the first two years oflife, are at increased risk of obesity in childhood and adulthood, astudy published online by the British Medical Journal (14 October 2005)has found.
There is an urgent need to tackle rising levels of obesity in thepopulation. However it is not clear how early in life prevention couldbegin. This study examines the relation between infant size and growthand later obesity.
Researchers analysed 24 studies which assessed the relationbetween infant size and growth and the development of obesity at anylater age. They found that the heaviest infants, those with the highestbody mass index, and those who gained weight rapidly during the firstand second year of life, were more likely to be obese in childhood,adolescence, and early adulthood than other infants.
The authors believe that factors during or before infancy thatare related to infant growth probably influence the risk of laterobesity.
They suggest that future studies need to investigate whatdetermines these patterns of growth, and to explore whetherinterventions to alter infant growth could be associated with otherbenefits or harms.
It will also be important to assess whether factorsinfluencing infant growth are amenable to change, to establish whichstrategies might alter infant growth, and to find out whether these areacceptable to parents, they conclude.
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